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Click to read about the Astragalus genus.

Astragalus tenellus
Astragalus tenellus
Astragalus multiflorus. Synonym: Astragalus tenellus. (Multi-flowered Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane.  Meadows, woodland openings.  Spring, summer.
Ryman Creek Trail, June 14, 2011.

Astragalus multiflorus is widespread in the Western United States and is found in a wide variety of habitats from Pinyon-Juniper to Spruce-Fir woodlands.  The plant can be from 4 to 20 inches tall and wide.  Flowers are tiny and numerous.

This plant was first collected for science by Meriwether Lewis "on the banks of the Missouri" and it received its first name, Ervum multiflorum, from Frederick Pursh in 1814.  Pursh renamed the plant Astragalus tenellus in 1817 and Asa Gray renamed the plant A. multiflorus.  John Kartesz (the ultimate authority for names on this web site) accepts Gray's name.

The Latin "tenner" means "soft or delicate" and "ellus" means "small".

Astragalus tenellus

Astragalus multiflorus. Synonym: Astragalus tenellus. (Multi-flowered Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane.  Meadows, woodland openings.  Spring, summer.
Ryman Creek Trail, June 14, 2011.

Astragalus tenellus

Astragalus multiflorus. Synonym: Astragalus tenellus. (Multi-flowered Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane.  Meadows, woodland openings.  Spring, summer.
Ryman Creek Trail, June 14, 2011.

Pods are flattened and 7-19 millimeters long.

Stanley Welsh, Astragalus expert (and author of A Utah Flora), indicates that Astragalus multiflorus has several key diagnostic characteristics: small, compressed pods; often two flower clusters growing from each leaf joint; and stipules that blacken on drying.  (The stipules are small sheaths that can be seen tan in the lower right of this photograph.)

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated

Questionable presence

Astragalus multiflorus

Range map for Astragalus multiflorus