WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

Erect clusters of whitish-purple to pink, pea-like flowers (bilaterally symmetrical) cover this sprawling plant with stems that reach 2 feet long and curve upward. The common and species names come from the distinctive fruit, a brownish-purple, fleshy (not inflated bladder), plum-like pod.


FLOWERS: March–June. Purple, light blue, pinkish, or greenish-white; 2–25 pea-like flowers around upper sides of leafless, 1–4 inch long ( 2.5–10 cm) stem (raceme). Flowers with 1 upright banner petal to 1-inch long (25 mm), 2 side wing petals, and 2 fused keel petals to 3/4-inch long. Plum-like pods are purplish, fleshy, smooth, spherical to oval, 1/2–1 inch (1.2-2.5 cm) long, with 2 chambers, in clusters up to 15. The stems with pods lie prostrate on the ground.


LEAVES: Alternate. Blade 2–5 inches (3–13 cm) long, pinnately compound with 15-29 broad to narrowly elliptic leaflets 1/8–1-inch long (3–24 mm), spaced along the midrib; hairless above, hairy below.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly, loam soils, roadsides; prairies, pinion-juniper woodlands.


ELEVATION: 4,300–7,000 feet.


RANGE: Widespread west of the Mississippi River through the Rocky Mountain states.


SIMILAR SPECIES: More than 75 Astragalus species in NM with similar pea-like flowers. The plum-like pods distinguish this species.


NM COUNTIES: Low- to mid-elevation, dry habitats.

GROUNDPLUM  MILKVETCH

ASTRAGALUS  CRASSICARPUS

Pea Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb

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