Pediomelum argophyllum (Silverleaf Scurfpea)

Plant Info
Also known as: Silverleaf Indian Breadroot
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry prairies
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: spike Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] The small dark blue-violet flowers are in open spikes from upper leaf axils, each spike with 1 to 5 leafy bracts where 2 to 8 flowers whorl around the stem. Flowers are less than ¼ inch wide, with a flaring upper lip and two lateral wings of same length as upper lip with a small keel shaped lower lip obscured underneath. Flower stalks, bracts and calyx tubes are densely covered in silvery hairs.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are palmately compound in groups of 3 to 5, on a stalk to 1½ inches long. Leaflets are oval to lance elliptic, unequal in size, ¾ to 1¼ inch long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, toothless, pointed on both ends. Stems are erect, many branched and spreading laterally. Both leaves and stems are covered with dense, shiny hairs that give the plant a silvery appearance.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a 1-seeded pod less than ¼ inch long.


Both Silverleaf Scurfpea and Prairie Turnip (P.  esculenta) are restricted to open prairie habitats and are relatively common. Like White Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana), the light colored foliage helps it stand out at a distance. While this species has observed many places in western Minnesota, most images here came from near Garrison North Dakota. This species was formerly known as Psoralea argophylla.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Strandness Prairie, Pope County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in central North Dakota.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Victoria - Scott County
on: 2011-06-07 15:34:53

Minnesota River National Wildlife Refuge, Louiseville Swamp unit.

Posted by: Phyllis - Butternut Valley Prairie Scientific and Natural Area
on: 2014-07-23 11:20:53

Many blooming at the SNA this week.

Posted by: Terry - East side of Pelican Lake in Ashby, MN
on: 2015-07-04 20:31:42

These are growing in a protected area in Grant Co. I thought they were a variety of Lupine, but your site helped me see otherwise. Awesome. They are so beautiful with their silvery leaves.

Posted by: steve - Buffalo River State Park
on: 2016-07-15 09:24:40

Found a large colony by the vault toilet in the campground. I don't know if they are remnant or seeded.

Posted by: Nadine Thiel - northwestern Grant County
on: 2018-07-15 18:47:20

Growing at roadside.

Posted by: HvHughes - 10 miles east of Warren MN
on: 2019-08-03 07:04:07

Seems to be in abundance along the roads and ditches in NW Polk County and southern Marshall County.

Posted by: Jessica Dickinson - Fergus Falls
on: 2020-07-02 09:41:04

Found one gorgeous plant on the North Country Trail in Fergus near the Ottertail river.

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