Oberelsbach/Triesdorf (dpa) – Up to eight hours a day, repeatedly on their knees, ticked and braked, and exposed to unprotected weather: Philip Frickl, 29, and his father, Gerd Frickl, 61, on the meadow colored mountain by day Their work is flat Hochrhön.
Since May, two landscape conservationists and their team of ten have targeted the introduced herbaceous lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
In the Rhön, a low mountain range between Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia, conservationists have been battling the massively spreading plant for years. Lupine is not just a thermos. Because while one species is troublesome, the other is grown in the field – and used not only as animal feed, but also as the basis for vegetable dishes or even coffee. It is worth looking at one genus of plants that, depending on the species, inspires rage and enthusiasm.
With a benign weevil on the mountain meadow: pierce, raise, tilt – preferably a perennial lupine outside the ground with the main rootstock. “You have to work very precisely and very cleanly,” explains Philip Frickl. Because if parts of the root remain, then the work was in vain. “They simply form new plants, and next year I suddenly have two lupines here.” They want to dig up to 50,000 plants by October.
Lupine can contain toxic alkaloids
Volunteers outside with their scythe and removing lupins that stand alone among arnica, devil’s claw and orchids.
A snowman transformed into a giant mower attacks wetter lawns that lack nutrients but are rich in species where manual labor is no longer useful. Full-time diggers move around the Frickels with weed pullers when only a few specimens are left. “We call them ‘Soko Lupine,'” says Torsten Kirchner, a biologist and manager of the high plateau area called Lang Ron. “They deal lupines a fatal blow, so to speak.”
Up to 700 hectares of the about 3000 hectares high plateau are threatened by perennial lupine. Because plants can bind atmospheric nitrogen, mountain meadows are rich in nutrients and have been changing for many years, Kirschner explains. Nitrogen-loving plants like nettles, stinging hollows, or bed straws followed and displaced Arnica, Globe and Co. – the landscape changes. If perennial lupine has the upper hand, breeding grounds for rare bird species may be lost.
Sweet lupine cultivation
But there is also a desirable thermos. The Bavarian State Institute of Agriculture (LfL) wrote: “In contrast to the wild forms, sweet lupine is low in bitter substances, that is, the alkaloid content in the grain is less than 0.05 percent.” Until the 1990s, lupine cultivation was widespread in German fields, says Markus Heinz, head of the crop production and testing department at the Agricultural Colleges of the Central Franconia region in Triesdorf. But then the plants became infected with a fungal disease and led to heavy losses for the farmers. Agriculture has almost come to a standstill.
In 2001, experts in Triesdorf began breeding their own species of white lupine (Lupinus albus) that is not susceptible to plant diseases. Successfully, Haynes emphasizes: In 2019, two types were approved. “There’s a lot of interest,” says the expert. “Many farmers deal with it intensively.”
Until now, lupine was a specialized product as food. According to LfL information, lupine is cultivated on an area of 28,900 hectares in Germany. Maize grew on an area of approximately 2.65 million hectares.
Not only suitable as animal feed
Home lupine is mainly used as animal feed rich in protein and therefore can become a substitute for soybean imports. Expert Heinz says that trials feeding dairy cows have gone very well in Triesdorf. The use of lupine in fattening pigs and cattle is currently being tested.
But lupine products are also suitable for human consumption: lupine ice cream as a vegetable substitute for ice cream or lupine flour as an alternative to ground cereal. Sabine Bettel from the Department of Nutrition and Home Economics at Triesdorf School has other suggestions: You can season lupine seeds and eat them as a salad. Lupine meal, soaked for ten minutes, is suitable as a supplement or alternative to minced meat.
In addition, people in Triesdorf began roasting and grinding lupine and preparing it as coffee. “It works great,” says Beetle. The fat content is similar to that of coffee beans, while roasting creates a nutty aroma.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220627-99-816359 / 2