WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

Basal rosettes of compound, densely hairy leaves are decorated with numerous 2–12-inch tall, leafless spikes of purple flowers. Note the plant only has basal leaves and spikes of purple flowers. Livestock, especially horses, become addicted to the toxic plant and suffer brain and organ damage.


FLOWER: May–July. Each 1/2–1-inch long (12–25 mm), pink-purple flower has 5 petals in a hairy, vase-like base (calyx); 1 erect “banner” petal has a white base with pink lines, 2 side “wing” petals extending forward, and 2 petals in the center shaped like a boat keel. The leafless spikes have 6–25 flowers. Dense, silky hairs cover the cylindrical, 1/2–inch long (12 mm) seed pods tipped with a slender, curved, 1/8–1/4-inch long (36 mm) beak.


LEAVES: Basal leaves only, 4–7-inches long (10–18 cm), are pinnately compound with 7–19 leaflets in pairs along the midrib. The narrow, oblong leaflets are 1/4–1 1/2-inches long (6–38 m), 1/4-inch wide (6 mm), and densely covered with silvery-white hairs. Visible under magnification, the hairs are attached in the middle and have 2 arms.


HABITAT: 4,000–10,678 feet.


ELEVATION: Gravelly loam, sandy soils, roadsides, ridges, meadows; dessert shrub-grasslands, pinyon-juniper, ponderosa, spruce-fir forests.


RANGE: Widespread from TX to AZ north into Canada.


SIMILAR SPECIES: White Locoweed, O. sericea, at mid elevations in much the same range, has white flowers with purple-spotted keel petals. The rosette of hairy leaves and pods with beaks separate this species from similar locoweeds in the Astragalus genus. The densely hairy Woolly Locoweed, Astragalus mollissimus, at mid to low elevations statewide, has 1-foot long, sprawling stems with compound leaves with 30+ leaflets, and round, woolly pods without beaks.


NM COUNTIES: Statewide in mid- to high-elevation, dry habitats: Bernalillo, Catron, Chaves, Cibola, Colfax, De Baca, Grant, Harding, Lincoln, Luna, McKinley, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union, Valencia.

PURPLE  LOCOWEED

OXYTROPIS  LAMBERTII

Legume Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb

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Seed pods are hairy and tipped with a beak.

All leaves are basal from the root crown  (no stems) with  7–19 hairy leaflets along the midrib.

• Flowers have a banner petal with white lines (upper arrow), 2 keel petals that come to a point (middle arrow), and 2 wing petals (lower arrow).

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