Gravelly and sandy flats and slopes in sagebrush and forests up to 9,800 feet in elevation
Alberta down through California and across to Saskatchewan and the Dakotas
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
There are so many different species of milkvetch in the Truckee Meadows that they can often be difficult to identify. Woollypod milkvetch has distinctive seed pods that look like cotton balls clustered on the ground making it easy to identify at this stage in its life cycle! Woollypod milkvetch is a low growing, mat forming plant. Its stems and leaves are covered in fine hairs that make it look a gray-green color. The pinnate (feather-like) leaves can be up to 4 inches long with 3 to 17 pairs of leaflets. The flowers are in the pink-purple range, but can be quite variable in detail. The bloom period for these plants is April to July.
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.
The species name, purshii, commemorates the botanist Fredrick Pursh who wrote the first flora of North America, Flora americae septentrionalis, which included plants that Lewis and Clark collected.
Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, 2nd Edition, 2013, Karen Wiese
Emma Wynn (research, content, and photos)
Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)