Ground Milkvetch - Astragalus chamaeleuce
Cicada milkvetch is a stemless (or nearly so) perennial herb with a simple or branched rootcrown and taproot. The pinnately compound leaves are 2-8 cm (1-3 in) long with 2-7 pairs of egg-shaped leaflets. Foliage is covered with silvery hairs that branch at the base and spread in opposite directions appressed to the surface of the leaf or stem (dolabriform). 4-9 flowers are borne on lax or ascending stalks arising from near the top of the rootcrown. The purplish, pea-like flowers have a slightly raised upper petal, 16-25 mm long, that is just barely longer than the others. The purplish calyx is 9-13 mm long and covered with white or black hairs. The brightly mottled, green and purple, inflated fruits are sparsely hairy and egg-shaped with a short, flattened beak and usually lay directly on the ground among the leaves.
Mature fruit in mid-June.
The combination of stemless habit, dolabriform hairs and mottled, inflated pods distinguish this species. A hand lens or microscope is required to observe the hairs.
In MT known from southern Carbon County; MT south to UT and CO (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Dry, often sandy soil of shrub steppe in the valleys.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.