Some similarities to :
Lupins, but it is, after all, related to them.
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature : Lupin-like flowers on a shrub up to 2m tall.
No relation to :
Trees, it is not a tree.
It is an evergreen shrub that grows quickly, up to 2 metres, and lasts for up to seven years only. Occupies old sand dunes near the sea. Also grows on waste lands. It belongs to the Pea family and is related to
Lupins. Dies in severe frosts, which are un-common near the sea, where it mostly thrives. It originated from California, and is now rapidly spreading in the UK. The seeds are contained within stiff hairy pods rather like small pea pods.
The flowers smell of honey.
QUINOLIZIDINE & BIS-QUINOLIZIDINE ALKALOIDS
Tree Lupin contains several toxic quinolizidine and bis-quinolizidine alkaloids, especially in the seeds.
Lupinine is a toxic quinolizidine alkaloid found in many species of Lupinus, including Tree Lupin. It is a sub-unit of the Lupanines which are bis-quinolizidines (which have two fused quinolizidine moieties) shown below. [In chemistry, a single letter difference in the spelling can make all the difference to the chemical formulae].
THRF (TetraHydroRhombiFoline) is present at about 2.4%, whilst that of Lupanine at 1.6% and 13-HydroxyLupanine at 1%. Sparteine is also present. Some or all of these are present in other, but not all, plants of the Pea Family.
Both Lupanine and Sparteine are bis-isoquinolizidine alkaloids, and in the case of Sparteine has perfect symmetry between the two identical fused halves which share a common bridge. The symptoms of Sparteine poisoning include headache, dizziness, sleepiness, eye flickering double vision, palpitations, cardial pain, tingling of extremities, power loss in legs, and erythryma. Stronger intoxication leads to strychnine-type symptoms of paralysis, convulsions, and death from suffocating whilst the heart is still beating within 4 to 5 hours. Sparteine indirectly blocks the sodium channels causing brachycardia and a decrease in blood pressure. Due to the blocking of sodium channels, Sparteine has found medical uses in treating heart arrhythmia and during childberth (it is an oxytocic, causing uterine contractions) but poisonings have occurred in some patients who are slower to metabolise the drug away than others. Sparteine works by blocking the Na+ channels, and is also used medicinally as an antidote to some cardiac glycoside poisons as found in Lily-of-the-Valley, and also acts as an antidote to some snake venoms.
Lupanine is an agonist of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, affecting the Central Nervous System.