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Sand Milkvetch

Astragalus arenarius

  • Name also: Sand Milk-vetch, Arenarious Milkwetch
  • Family: Pea family – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
  • Growing form: Perennial, low-growing, soft-haired herb.
  • Height: 10–30 cm (4–12 in.). Stem ascending, with light grey hairs.
  • Flower: Corolla zygomorphic, (light) purple, approx. 1.5 cm (0.6 in.) long; the upstanding the ‘standard’, the lateral two the ‘wings’, the lower two united to form the ‘keel’, overall shape of corolla being butterfly-like. Keel shorter than standard. Calyx glabrous, 5-lobed, lobes narrow. Stamens 10, filaments fused at base. A single carpel. Flowers erect, inflorescence 3–8-flowered, a lax raceme. Flower-stems at leaf base about same length as subtending bracts.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked, stipulate. Blade pinnate, 3–5(–6)-paired, with terminal leaflet. Leaflets 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6), narrow, linear–lanceolate, white-haired, with entire margins, V-shaped cross section. Stipules sharp-tipped, fused at base.
  • Fruit: Approx. 2 cm (0.8 in.) long, narrow, straight, grey-haired, with 2 compartments, many-seeded, erect pod (legume), brown and hanging when ripe.
  • Habitat: Ballast soil deposits, sandy roadsides.
  • Flowering time: June–July(–August).

Both the Latin species name and its common name in at least English, Finnish, Swedish, German and many other languages testifies to the fact that this species thrives in a sandy environment. In Finland sand milkvetch is extremely rare and has been found earlier mainly by the coast around old loading areas and nearby. Nowadays the species is found only casually, and its grey hairs make it rather distinct so in Finland it doesn’t require much close examination to identify it and it cannot be confused with its other relatives that grow in the country. We would like to ask that if anybody should come across this plant, they would tell us and we will pass the infomation along.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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