WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

With a dense basal rosette with pinnately compound leaves and flower stalks with 6–12 inch tall spikes of white pea-like flowers, this robust locoweed contains neurological toxins that addict and poison livestock. Note the white flowers, basal leaves with silky-hairy foliage, and bean-like seed pods.


FLOWER: May–September. Flower stalk (scape) to 20 inches tall (50 cm); the spike-like cluster (raceme) has 6–15 flowers each 5/8–1 inch long (15–25 mm), that spread upward (not drooping) on the stem; petals white, sometimes with purple spots or streaks. Fruit is an erect, oblong bean pod 5/8–1 inch long (15–25 mm), covered with silky hairs and tipped with a short beak.


LEAVES: Basal. Blades 2–8 inches long (5–20 cm) with 9–23 narrowly-oval leaflets mostly opposite along midrib; each leaflet 3/8–1 5/8 inches long (1–4 cm); surfaces covered with flat-lying, silky hairs.


HABITAT: Dry sandy, gravelly soils of canyons, mesas, dry washes, plains, foothills, meadows, forest openings; sage brushlands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, pine-Douglas fir forests.


ELEVATION: 6,000–9,200 feet.


RANGE: CO, ID, KA, MT, NE, NM, NV, OK, UT, SD, TX, WY.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Purple Locoweed, O. lambertii, in much  the same range and habitat, has similar foliage but purple flowers. The white flowers, basal rosette of silky-hairy leaves, and hairy pods with beaks separate this species from similar locoweeds in the Astragalus genus.


NM COUNTIES: Nearly statewide, except southern desert and eastern plains counties, in mid elevation, dry habitats: Bernalillo, Catron, Chaves, Cibola, Colfax, Grant, Harding, Lincoln, Los Alamos, McKinley, Mora, Otero, Quay, Rio Arriba, San Juan,, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union, Valencia.

WHITE  LOCOWEED

OXYTROPIS  SERICEA

Legume Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb

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Pea-like flowers have an erect banner petal (upper arrow), two side wing petals (middle arrow) and two keel petals (bottom arrow).

* Note the silky hairs on the calyx, and hole chewed by a bee whose tongue was too short to reach the nectar glands at the base of the flower.

*