WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

With branching, reddish stems to 12-inches long, this small milkvetch grows prostrate and spreading to bushy. The pinnately compound leaflets are slightly hairy and tend to fold along the midrib. Note the few-flowered clusters of small light-pink to dark-purple flowers, and the oval, inflated pods. Small, stiff hairs cover the foliage.


FLOWER: March–May. Loose clusters are held within the leaves and have 4–12 small, pinkish to purple, pea-like flowers; each flower is 1/4–3/8 inch long (6–9 mm) with 5 petals: 1 oval upper banner with white streaks, 2 side wings, and 2 central keel petals that arch upward. Fruits are an oval, inflated, thin-walled pod, green to reddish-tinged, 5/8–1 inch long (12–25 mm). Var. allochrous has asymmetrical pods; var. playanus has symmetrical oval pods.


LEAVES: Alternate. Blades compound with 11–19 linear-oblong to elliptic leaflets, each 5/16–1 inch long (8–25 mm); surfaces sparsely covered with small, stiff hairs, edges folded lengthwise.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly, loam soils; slopes washes, flats, foothills, brushlands, grasslands; sagebrush-rabbitbrush flats, pinyon-juniper woodlands, mixed conifer forests.


ELEVATION: 4,000-8,600 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CA, CO, NM, TX.


SIMILAR SPECIES: The branching, reddish stems, foliage with short, stiff hairs, small flowers, and inflated pods help distinguish this species. Flora Neoxexicana III (Allred, 2012) recognizes two varieties, var. allochrous and var. playanus, and says, “We have two intergrading varieties scattered nearly throughout NM.” Other authorities classify Astragalus allochrous var. playanus as a separate species, Astragalus wootonii. Plants with intermediate characteristics are reported from Mesilla Valley (Dona Ana County.)


NM COUNTIES: Scattered in the western 2/3 of NM in low- to mid- elevation, dry habitats:  Bernalillo, Catron, Cibola, Dona Ana, Grant, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Luna, McKinley, Otero, Rio Arriba, San Juan, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Valencia.

HALFMOON  MILKVETCH

ASTRAGALUS  ALLOCHROUS  VAR.  ALLOCHROUS

ASTRAGALUS  ALLOCHROUS  VAR.  PLAYANUS  (ASTRAGALUS  WOOTONII)

Pea Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb

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Creative Commons phot0 © Patrick Alexander

Fruit is a greenish to reddish-tinted, inflated pod with one chamber and numerous seeds.

• Leaves have 11–19 elliptic to linear leaflets that fold up along the midrib (upper arrow).

• Small, stiff hairs cover the stem and leaves (lower arrow).

Flower clusters and fruit develop within the leaves.

Flowers clusters have only 4–12 small flowers.