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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Little Indian Breadroot - Pediomelum hypogaeum

Potential Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3S4
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank: 3

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
See rank details.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Little Indian Breadroot (Pediomelum hypogaeum) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 06/10/2013
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score2 - Small: Generally 2,000-10,000 individuals.

    Range Extent

    Score0 - Widespread species within Montana (occurs in 5% or more of the state or generally occurring in 6 or more sub-basins.) as well as outside of Montana.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score1 - Moderate: Generally occurring in 11-25 Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s).

    Environmental Specificity

    Score1-2 - Moderate to High.


    ScoreNA - Rank factor not assessed.

    CommentNo data on trends available.


    Score0-1 - Low to Medium.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score1 - Moderate Vulnerability: Specific biological attributes, unusual life history characteristics or limited reproductive potential makes the species susceptible to extirpation from stochastic events or other adverse impacts to its habitat and slow to recover.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 5 to 7 total points scored out of a possible 16 (Rarity factors and threats only).

General Description
Little Indian Breadroot is a perennial herb with a deep, club-shaped root that is up to 6 cm long and surmounted by a subterranean connecting stem. Above ground, the plant consists of a rosette of long-petioled leaves that are palmately divided into 3-7 linear-elliptic leaflets that are 25-50 mm long. The foliage is covered with dot-like glands and dense, white appressed hairs, but the upper leaf surfaces become glabrous with age. Blue, pea-like flowers are borne in condensed spikes arising among the bases of the leaf petioles at or barely above ground-level. The tubular calyx is 6-9 mm long and has 4 long, narrow lobes and a fifth that is longer and broader. The upper petal is 10-13 mm long and held forward. The hairy pods are egg-shaped, ca. 5 mm long, and each has a beak that is 5-13 mm long.

Flowering late May-June.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Psoralea esculenta has a distinct flowering stem with spreading pubesence on the stem and leaf petiole, while Psoralea hypogaea is stemless and has appressed pubesence.

Species Range
Montana Range


Range Comments
Great Plains, from NE to MT, and south from TX to NM. Peripheral.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 27

(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)

Loose, sandy soil of grasslands and open pine woodlands on the plains, below sandstone outcrops and in blowouts.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus pensylvanicus, Bombus griseocollis, and Bombus impatiens (Colla and Dumesh 2010).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Colla, S.R. and S. Dumesh. 2010. The bumble bees of southern Ontario: notes on natural history and distribution. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 141: 39-68.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Little Indian Breadroot"
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Citation for data on this website:
Little Indian Breadroot — Pediomelum hypogaeum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from