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Click to read about the Astragalus genus.

Astragalus lonchocarpus

Astragalus lonchocarpus

Astragalus lonchocarpus (Long-pod Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 16, 2016 and May 26, 2011.

Astragalus lonchocarpus often is passed by as "some green shrub", but all of the growth you see above (the plants are over two feet high and wide) is from just one spring. Astragalus lonchocarpus is perennial and herbaceous. Under the massive growth of green, are dead stems from previous years. The yellow vertical projections in the second photograph are the numerous seed pods from the flowers of this hardy plant.

Astragalus lonchocarpus
Astragalus lonchocarpus (Long-pod Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 19, 2007.

Clusters of pale yellow-to-cream flowers dangle from several feet of new spring growth. Astragalus lonchocarpus is eye-catching because of its mass of bright green foliage and numerous stems of numerous flowers. Last year's dead flower stalks can be seen at the base of the plants. Leaves are slender and sparse. 

Notice that the flower stems on the left of the plant have all been snipped off by browsing deer.  

"Lonchocarpus" is Greek for "spear-shaped fruit", or "long pod".

Augustus Fendler collected the first specimen of this plant in 1847 near Santa Fe and John Torrey named and described it in 1849.

Astragalus lonchocarpus

Astragalus lonchocarpus

Astragalus lonchocarpus (Long-pod Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
 

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 19, 2016 and Ojito Wilderness, New Mexico, June 2, 2010.

The flower banner petal is gracefully curved backward at about a 45 degree angle
from the very
long wing petals.

Astragalus lonchocarpus   

The banner is curved inward from both sides and has a blunt tip. The keel petal, the tiny buff nub clasped by the two wings, is considerably shorter than the wings. The keel of the flower on the left is hidden but you can see the anthers protruding from the keel.

Astragalus lonchocarpus

Astragalus lonchocarpus (Long-pod Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
 

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Spring.
Lone Mesa State Park, May 25, 2009.

Leaves vary from compound (near the base) to simple and are of various shapes and lengths (long and narrow to stubby), and they are generally widely spaced -- as leaflets or leaves. Stems are numerous, thick, and vibrant green.

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

Range map for Astragalus lonchocarpus