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Western Sweet-vetch Hedysarum occidentale


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Family: Fabaceae, Pea view all from this family

Description Bunched stems with papery brown sheaths at base, pinnately compound leaves, and deep pink or pinkish-purple spires of nodding pea flowers in dense racemes.
Habit: native perennial herb.
Height: 16-32 in (40-80 cm).
Leaf: alternate, oddly pinnate, 3-7 in (7-17 cm) long; 9-21 leaflets, hairless, widely & evenly space, ovate to lanceolate, 0.5-1.25 in (1-3 cm) long, tip pointed or notched.
Flower: rose-pink to magenta (rarely white), 0.75 in (2 cm) long, nodding; in long showy cluster, 4-12 in (10-30 cm), of 20-80 flowerheads.
Fruit: jointed pod, hanging, with 1-5 flat oval segments, each 0.25-0.5 in (6-12 mm) long, edges sharp and irregular.

Flower June to September.

Habitat Dry slopes, meadows, shrublands, rock outcrops, talus, canyons, open forests; at high elevations.

Range Native to west-central North America, from British Columbia, southeast to Washington and Utah, east to Colorado, northwest to Montana and Alberta.

Discussion Two varieties are recognized. In the West only four species of Hedysarum represent this northern genus of about 100 species.