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It is a perennial herbaceous plant with stout stems growing to 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) tall. The leaves are palmately compound with (5-) 9-17 leaflets 3–15 centimetres (1.2–5.9 in) long. The flowers are produced on a tall spike, each flower 1–1.5 centimetres (0.39–0.59 in) long, most commonly blue to purple in wild plants. The polyphyllus variety in particular make up a great number of the hybrids which are generally grown as garden lupins, they can vary dramatically in colours. The majority of lupins do not thrive in rich heavy soils, and often only live for a matter of years if grown in such places, crown contact with manure or rich organic matter encourages rotting.