Astragalus spatulatus Sheldon
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Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Astragalus
Species Synonyms: Astragalus caespitosus (Nutt.) Gray
Astragalus spatulatus var. uniflorus (Rydb.) Barneby
Homalobus caespitosus Nutt.
Orophaca caespitosa (Nutt.) Britt.
Common Names: tufted milkvetch
draba milk-vetch
Canada: southern Alberta – southwestern Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan: southwestern Saskatchewan; Leader – lower Frenchman River Valley
Ecoregion: Cypress Upland, Mixed Grassland
Saskatchewan: exposed eroded, short-grassland slopes, hilltops and plains
Associated species: creeping juniper, golden bean, needle and thread grass, plains milkvetch, streambank wheatgrass, white locoweed
Provincial Status According
to Harms (2003):
Nature Conservancy Status:
G4 S2
Saskatchewan Species at
Risk Status:
Tufted milkvetch is vulnerable in Saskatchewan because it is uncommon. This species appears to be secure, with numerous localities; however, it is restricted to the southwestern corner of the province. Local population sizes vary.
Roots: taproot woody
Stems: caudex branched; stems to 1.5 cm long (overall plants < 10 cm tall), knobby, cushion-like plant, covered by overlapping stipules
Stipules: 2 – 7 mm long, papery, fused
Leaves: simple or with 1 or 2 pairs of leaflets, lower 0.3 – 1.5 cm long, later leaves 1.5 – 6 cm long, blade as long as or longer than leaf stalk, densely silvery-hairy
Inflorescence: unbranched, 1 – 11-flowered; flower stalks to 3 mm long in fruit; inflorescence stalk erect, 0.4 – 7 cm long
Flowers: sepal tube 2 – 3.5 mm long, bell-shaped; petals pink-purple, rarely light yellowish-purple or white; banner 6 – 9.5 mm long; wings 6 – 8 mm long, white on tips; keel 4.5 – 6 mm long; stamens 10, 9 + 1 arrangement; ovary superior
Fruits: pod sessile, erect, 4 – 13 mm long, nearly straight, laterally compressed, becoming papery; seeds 2 – 2.5 mm long, purplish-brown, wrinkled
1 Leaves needle-like, distinctly spine-tipped
A. kentrophyta var. kentrophyta
1 Leaves not needle-like or spine-tipped
2 Plants without a distinct stem, < 10 cm tall, densely tufted; flowers often included among leaves
2 Plants with a distinct stem, > 10 cm tall, may be erect or creeping, stem not well defined in A. missouriensis; flowers in distinct inflorescences
3 Leaves simple or with 1 or 2 linear leaflets
A. spatulatus
3 Leaves pinnate or with 3 leaflets
4 Leaves with 3 leaflets
A. gilviflorus var. gilviflorus
4 Leaves pinnate
5 Leaf hairs attaching in the middle, with one side longer than the other; leaflets 4 – 5x as long as wide, tip acute
A. lotiflorus
5 Leaf hairs attaching at the base; leaflets 2x as long as wide, tip rounded
A. purshii var. purshii
6 Leaf hairs attaching in the middle, with one side longer than the other
6 Leaf hairs attaching at the base
7 Petals greenish-white or creamy; plants green
A. canadensis var. canadensis
7 Petals purplish; plants covered in greyish or silvery hairs
8 Leaflets in up to 12 pairs; plants with a definite stem; stipules fused
A. adsurgens ssp. robustior
8 Leaflets fewer than or equal to 7 pairs; stem not well-defined; stipules not fused
A. missouriensis var. missouriensis
9 Petals yellow, cream or orange, keel occasionally blue-tinged
9 Petals blue, pink, or purple
10 Leaves and stems gray-hairy, hairs 1 – 2 mm long, widely spreading
A. drummondii
10 Hairs of leaves and stem variable but hairs shorter than 1 mm long
11 Pods hairless or nearly to
11 Pods distinctly hairy
12 Pods sessile or nearly so, stalk < 1 mm long; pods very fleshy, walls thick, hard and bony when dry
A. crassicarpus
12 Pods stalked, stalk equal to or exceeding sepals; pods not fleshy, walls thin
13 Pods linear
A. racemosus var. racemosus
13 Pods broader
14 Leaflets 2 – 4 cm long; pods inflated and nearly round in cross section
A. americanus
14 Leaflets < 2 cm long; pods very strongly flattened
A. tenellus
15 Flowers small, sepal tube 1.5 – 4.5 mm long, banner 4 – 12.5 mm long
15 Flowers large, sepal tube > 4.5 mm long, banner > 13 mm long
16 Pods hanging down, stalked
A. alpinus var. alpinus
16 Pods erect, short-stalked
A. bodinii
17 Leaflets without stalks; pods sessile
A. pectinatus
17 Leaflets with stalks; pods stalked
A. agrestis
18 Pods 1 – 3 cm long
18 Pods generally less than 1.1 cm long
19 Pods with two deep grooves on upper side
A. bisulcatus
19 Pods lacking two deep grooves
A. flexuosus var. flexuosus
20 Pods spreading to erect
20 Pods spreading to deflexed
21 Flowers small, sepal tube < 4.5 mm long, banner < 13 mm long
A. bodinii
21 Flowers large, sepal tube > 4.5 mm long, banner > 13 mm long
A. agrestis
22 Pods plump
A. gracilis
22 Pods strongly flattened laterally
23 Inflorescences at most loosely 10-flowered; inflorescence stalks shorter than or only slightly surpassing leaves
A. vexilliflexus var. vexilliflexus
23 Inflorescences usually more than 10-flowered; inflorescence stalks longer than leaves
A. eucosmus