WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

Spreading by rhizomes, colonies of this showy plant thrive in sandy grasslands. Their spreading, leafy, hairy stems reach 12-inches tall. Note the erect, spike-like flower clusters crowded with creamy white blooms growing from the leaf axils.


FLOWERS: May–July. Flowering stalk (raceme) to 3 1/2-inches long (9 cm) with up to 50 bilaterally symmetrical flowers, each tubular, 1/2–3/4-inch long (14–20 mm) with 5 lobes forming an upper banner, 2 forward wings, and a central keel with a tapering beak; the tubular calyx cupping the petals is hairy and often tinged with blue. Note the 10 stamens are separate. Fruit a pod 1–2 3/4-inches long (2.5–7 cm), constricted around the 1–3  seeds.


LEAVES: Alternate, pinnately compound. Blade 1–3-inches long (2.5–7.5 cm) with 13–23 elliptical to oval leaflets along midrib, each leaflet  1/4–1/2-inch long (6–11 mm); tip pointed, surfaces hairless above, silky hairy below.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly soils, roadsides, disturbed areas; desert grama grasslands, short-grass prairies, pinyon-juniper woodlands.


ELEVATION: 3,900–7,700 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CO, KA, NE, NM, OK, UT, WY.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Several milkvetches, Astragalus species (see Stinking Milkvetch, A. praelongus), have white flowers but the stamens are united and concealed inside the petals, and the keel tip is rounded without a beak.


NM COUNTIES: Widespread, nearly statewide (not reported in Taos Co.) in low- to mid-elevation, arid habitats.

SILKY  (WHITE)  SOPHORA

SOPHORA  NUTTALLIANA

Bean Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb

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The central keel has a tapering beak (bottom arrow), and the stamens are separate and exposed outside the petals (top arrow).

Pinnately compound leaves have 13–23 elliptical to oval leaflets along midrib.

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