Astragalus crassicarpus (Ground Plum)
|Also known as:||Prairie Plum, Groundplum Milkvetch, Buffalo Bean|
|Habitat:||sun; dry prairies|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||4 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Racemes of 5 to 15 pea-shaped flowers. Flowers are about ¾ inch long with an erect broad egg-shaped upper petal, notched at the tip, and 2 small lower petals that are mostly horizontal. The tubular calyx holding the flower is purple tinged with several prong-like appendages at the tip end. Flower color ranges from pinkish purple to lavender to blue-violet. A plant has several to many clusters on stalks up to 4 inches long arising from the leaf axils.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in groups of 15 to 29. Leaflets are about 1/3 to ½ inch long, less than ¼ inch wide, generally elliptic with a pointed or blunt tip, hairy to varying degrees on both sides. Stems are hairy, sprawling along the ground and rising at the tip end (decumbent).
Notes:Both the Dakota and Lakota ate the Ground Plum fruit, but you should never eat wild plants unless you know what you are doing and have a positive ID. Many species in the legume family are toxic.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Grey Cloud Dunes SNA, Washington county. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota and Washington counties.
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