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Montana Field Guides

Groundplum Milkvetch - Astragalus crassicarpus

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 4

External Links

General Description
PLANTS: A short, perennial forb that grows from a well branched caudex atop of a tap root. Plants are 5-40 cm and grow prostrate to ascending to erect with showy flowers and an inflated, round seed pod.

LEAVES: Pinnately dissected, with 13-21 leaflets which are oblanceolate to linear. Leaflets have (basifixed) hairs which make the plant appear slightly grayish. The leaf sheaths (stipules) are 3-8 mm long, lanceolate, and not fused around the stem. The leaves are usually taller and surpass the inflorescence.

INFLORESCENCE: A subcapitate to loose raceme arising from leaf axils with 5-20 flowers. Flowers are long, 22-30 mm, and either predominately purple or white with purple-tips. The banner petal is 22–30 mm long and moderately reflexed. The keel petal is 14–20 mm long. Sepals are 2-4 mm longs with black and/or white strigose hairs.

Montana plants are of variety crassicarpus or paysonii.

Sources: Lesica et al. 2012; Dorn 2001; and Flora of the Great Plains 1986.

Species Range
Montana Range


Range Comments
Alberta to Saskatchewan south to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas (Lesica et al. 2012).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 85

(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)

Grasslands and sagebrush steppe in the plains and valley zones of Montana (Lesica et al. 2012).

Reproductive Characteristics
The ovary and legume are glabrous, and grow on short petioles. Legumes are 13-20 mm long, become inflated and nearly round (globose), possess a short narrow beak, and have 2 chambers. Legumes are fleshy inside, becoming leathery with age. Fruits generally lay on the ground at maturity.

Sources: Lesica et al. 2012; Dorn 2001; and Flora of the Great Plains 1986.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Dorn, R. D. 2001. Vascular Plants of Wyoming. 3rd edition. Mountain West Publishing. Cheyenne, Wyoming. 412 pp.
    • Great Plains Flora Association (McGregor, R.L., coordinator, and T.M. Barkley, R.E. Brooks, and E.K. Schofield - eds.). 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: Univ. Press Kansas. 1392 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Fritzen, D.E. 1995. Ecology and behavior of Mule Deer on the Rosebud Coal Mine, Montana. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 143 p.
    • Seipel, T.F. 2006. Plant species diversity in the sagebrush steppe of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 87 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Groundplum Milkvetch — Astragalus crassicarpus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from