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Astragalus chamaeleuce (Cicada Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
Semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
This Astragalus shouts out at you with large, deep magenta flowers. You'll hear it on hot, dry hillsides early in the spring. Astragalus chamaeleuce grows in sprawling low mats of light green leaves topped by numerous clusters of flowers. The upright banner of the flower curves backward slightly
and the two forward thrusting wings (bottom right in the above photograph) are long and narrow, gently enfolding the vertical keel. Seed pods are swollen and often almost spherical but tapered to a sharp prow-like point on one end.
"Chamae" is Greek for "on the ground" and "leuc" is Greek for "white"; perhaps these refer to the light color of the leaves and the sprawling growth pattern.
Range map © John Kartesz,
Species present in state and native
County Color Key
Species present and not rare
Range map for Astragalus chamaeleuce