Astragalus agrestis (Field Milkvetch)
|Also known as:||Purple Milk-vetch|
|Habitat:||sun; moist soil; low areas of meadows and prairies, along shores|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||6 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Light purple pea-like flowers in a round to ovoid cluster at the tip of a stalk emerging from a leaf axil. Clusters are up to 1 inch wide by 1 inch tall; the stalk shorter or longer than the associated leaf. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch long, the outer flowers blooming first. The calyx holding the flower is densely covered in long gray to black hairs.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are compound in groups of 13 to 21, up to 4 inches long and 1½ inch wide, alternately attached. Leaflets are up to ¾ inch long, lance-elliptic to oblong, toothless with sparse to dense hairs on both surfaces. Multiple stems are smooth or slightly hairy, scattered, emerging from a small crown or from underground rhizomes.
A species moist prairies at cooler latitudes, Field Milkvetch is limited to Minnesota's western counties. The flowers are very similar to Prairie Milkvetch (A. adsurgens), which has a far denser stem cluster. Field Milkvetch has a more spidery appearance.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Strandness Prairie in Pope County.
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