Family: Fabaceae, Pea view all from this family
Description A low, grayish-hairy plant, commonly forming small mats, with pinnately compound leaves and racemes of rose-pink pea flowers on very short stalks.
Habit: native perennial herb; stems freely branched, spreading or ascending, from wood base.
Height: to 4 in (10 cm), stems to 20 in (50 cm) long.
Leaf: alternate, odd-pinnate; 13-29 small leaflets, oblong to ovate, somewhat folded, to 0.75 in (19 mm) long.
Flower: purple to pale pink, 1-1.5 in (25-38 mm) tall; with 5 unequal petals (1 banner, 2 wings, 2 keels); banner petal white-blotched on front, hairy on back; calyx hairy, cylindrical, around 0.5 in (12 mm) long, including 5 narrow teeth; in stalked compact cluster of 6-19 flowers.
Fruit: pod, fuzzy, sharply curved, 0.6-1.2 in (15-30 mm) long, with single chamber.
Warning All plants in the genus Astragalus are potentially toxic to humans and animals if ingested, causing a disorder called locoism. The milk from an animal that has ingested Astragalus plants may also be toxic. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Flower April to July.
Habitat Dry hillsides and sagebrush deserts.
Range Central Washington south to northern Oregon and east to western Montana.
Discussion Also called hairy milk-vetch. When in full flower, this species forms conspicuous, bright pink tufts or pads.
There are many similar species distinguished by technical features. One, Purshs Milk-vetch (A. purshii), common throughout much of the West, has densely matted stems rarely longer than 4 (10 cm) and flowers varying from cream to deep reddish purple, the narrowly lanceolate calyx teeth less than half the length of the tube.