WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

Reddish, sprawling to semi-erect stems spread in an arching clump up to 3-feet wide with spikes of purple flowers and generally hairless leaves. Note the usually red-freckled pods which are thin-walled and inflated like a bladder.


FLOWERS: March–July. Purple and white, pea-like, 3/8–5/8 inch long (1–1.5 cm); 5–35 flowers spread around the terminal end of a leafless stem (raceme) about the same length as the leaves. 5 petals: upper banner has white base with red lines and edges that fold back, 2 side wings reach forward beyond the 2 keel petals. Fruit an inflated oval pod, 1/2–1 inch long (15–24 mm) with 2 chambers, a deep seam down the top side, and a hooked tip; solid pale green or often marked with deep red “freckles.”


LEAVES: Alternate. Blade to 6 inches long (15 cm), hairless to sparsely or densely hairy; pinnately compound with 15–21 oval to elliptic leaflets 1/16–1/2-inch long (2–12 mm), spaced along the midrib.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly, loamy soils, roadsides; desert grasslands and scrub, sagebrush scrub, pinion-juniper woodlands.


ELEVATION: 4,800–7,600 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CA, CO, NM, TX, all states west of Rocky Mts.


SIMILAR SPECIES: A. lentginosus is highly variable with two varieties in NM, 35 throughout the West. More than 75 Astragalus species in NM with similar pea-like flowers. Both flower and fruit are needed for identification. The inflated, 2-chambered pods with red-freckles help identify this species.


NM COUNTIES: Widespread in NM in low- to mid-elevation, dry habitats.

FRECKLED  MILKVETCH

ASTRAGALUS  LENTIGINOSUS 

Pea Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb

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