Saturday, May 28, 2011

Milkvetch with cotton ball seedpods on dry slopes east of Reno

Milkvetch species are native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Hundreds of species have been found and classified between Alaska and northern Mexico, most of them in the western parts of this subcontinent [1]. Milkvetch (Astragalus) species belong to the pea family (Fabaceae).
Pursh's milkvetch (Astragalus purshii) is one example [2,3]. It likes dry flats and slopes and can be found, for example, at low, mid and high elevation below timberline in Great Basin habitats. The shown plants grow on slopes in the Hidden Valley Regional Park, Nevada. This species has pink-purple flowers. Stems and leaves are densely coated with white hairs. The seedpods look like small cotton balls—the reason for the common name woollypod milkvetch.

References and more
[1] USDA Plants Profile: Astragalus L., milkvetch [].
[2] USDA Plants Profile: Astragalus purshii Douglas ex Hook., woollypod milkvetch [].
[3] Laird R. Blackwell: Tahoe WildflowersA Month-by-Month Guide to Wildflowers in the Tahoe Basin and Surrounding Areas. A Falcon Guide, Morris Book Publishing, LLC, 2007 ; page 32.

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