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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Ground Milkvetch - Astragalus chamaeleuce

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3?

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
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.

Diagnostic Characteristics
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.

Species Range

Range Comments
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: 39

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Dry, often sandy soil of shrub steppe in the valleys.

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Citation for data on this website:
Ground Milkvetch — Astragalus chamaeleuce.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from