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Astragalus canadensis var. canadensis

Astragalus canadensis L. var. canadensis

Canadian Milkvetch

Fabaceae (Pea family)

Synonym(s): Astragalus canadensis var. carolinianus, Astragalus canadensis var. longilobus, Astragalus carolinianus, Astragalus halei


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

"Variable in stature, but usually tall and robust, the stems either slender and almost solid or stout and hollow, (3.5) 4-12 (16) dm. long, usually branched or spurred at 1-several nodes preceding the first peduncle, sometimes simple, the herbage green or subcinereous, the leaflets commonly glabrous or glabrescent above, the longest hairs of the herbage up to (0.25) 0.3-0.7 mm., and of the inflorescence up to (0.4) 0.5-1.1 mm. long." (bibref: 1814).

"The circumscription of A. c. var. canadensis has been drawn rather broadly in order to include all forms of the species with pod rounded and not sulcate dorsally, whether glabrous or puberulent. The entity so defined is polymorphic, individual plants and populations showing considerable variation in stature, number of leaflets, length and density of the racemes, proportions of the calyx, and length of the banner. There is evidently some correlation between certain types of variation and dispersal patterns, but no reliable method of separating named geographic races has been found." (bibref: 1814).


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: "Stems either slender and almost solid or stout and hollow, (3.5) 4-12 (16) dm. long." (bibref: 1814).
Leaf: "Stipules deltoid, deltoid-acuminate, or lanceolate, 3-18 mm. long, membranous, pallid, early becoming scarious, the lower ones often fragile and deciduous by late anthesis leaving a scar or low ridge around the stem, the lowest ones usually ruptured and irregularly circumscissile in age, all thinly pubescent dorsally and often beset, especially at the point of insertion, with a few minute knob- or tack-shaped processes; leaves (3.5) 5-25 (35) cm. long, shortly petioled or the upper ones subsessile, with (9) 15-35 broadly lanceolate, oblong, ovate, or elliptic, obtuse or mucronulate, or truncate-emarginate leaflets 0.6-4.5 cm. long, all paler beneath and carinate by the prominent suture." (bibref: 1814).
Flower: "Peduncles erect or incurved-ascending, (2.5) 4-11 (13) cm. long, commonly about half as long as the leaf; racemes usually dense, rarely looser and racemose, mostly 4-16 cm. long and (2) 2.5-3 cm. in diameter at anthesis, the axis little elongating, the erect fruits crowded into an oblong heads; bracts membranous, pallid, narrowly lance-acuminate or linear-caudate (exceptionally ovate), (1.2) 2-10 mm. long, reflexed in fruit; pedicels ascending or a little arched outward, at anthesis 0.5-1.7 mm., in fruit erect or ascending, straight, thickened, 1.2-2.5 mm. long; bracteoles 0-2, commonly present; calyx (4.6) 5.5-9.6 (10.3) mm. long, mostly white-, rarely in part fuscous- or black-pilosulous, the tube sometimes glabrate, the campanulate or rarely cylindro-campanulate tube (3.4) 4.1-6.7 mm. long, (2.5) 2.7-4.1 mm. in diameter, the teeth subulate orlinear-subulate, 1.2-4 (5.1) mm. long, the whole becoming papery, ruptured, marcescent; petals greenish-white or dull straw-colored; inner 11.3-16.3 mm. long, 5-8 mm. wide; wings 10.1-14.5 mm. long, the claws (4.2) 5-7.1 mm., the blades 7-9.6 mm. long, 1.2-2.2 (2.5) mm. wide; keel 9.3-13 mm. long, the claws (4.6) 5-6.8 mm., the blades 4.9-7 mm. long, (2.2) 2.5-3.4 mm. wide." (bibref: 1814).
Fruit: "Pod erect, sessile on the slightly elevated receptacle, oblong-cylindroid or -ellipsoid, (9) 10-15 mm. long, 4-5.2 mm. in diameter, rounded or truncate at base, the nearly always porrect cusp mostly 2-4 mm. long, terete or nearly so but carinate ventrally by the suture, the valves glabrous or more rarely puberulent, exceptionally strigulose, transversely rugulose-reticulate and sometimes also tuberculate and wrinkled lengthwise, filamentous within, inflexed as a complete or subcomplete septum 1.5-4.5 mm. wide; dehiscence tardy, through the beak and part way downward through the ventral suture; ovules (18) 20-26 (27); seeds greenish, ochraceous, grayish-brown, or castaneous, smooth but dull, 1.7-2.4 mm. long." (bibref: 1814).

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: "Petals greenish-white or dull straw-colored." (bibref: 1814).


USA: AL , AR , CO , CT , DC , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NT , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: "Widely dispersed from southwestern Mackenzie and northern British Columbia to James Bay, Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Quebec, and Lake Champlain, Vermont, south over the plains, through the Mississippi Valley (where commonest), and the Midwest to southwestern Texas, central Louisiana, northeastern Alabama, and along the Appalachians from West Virginia to northern Georgia, rarely east to northern New Jersey and the Coastal Plain in southeastern Virginia and the Carolinas; also along the east slope of the Rocky Mountains from Montana to northern New Mexico, and sparingly east of the Continental Divide in northern Idaho (Pend Oreille River, possibly introduced), Utah (Sevier Valley; Provo Canyon; Cache County; apparently native), and about the headwaters of the San Juan River in southwestern Colorado." (bibref: 1814).
Native Habitat: "Low moist prairies, creek banks, roadside ditches, commonly in rich soils moist in spring, but also in dry rocky woodlands, on sandstone bluffs or cliffs, and on stony or sandy beaches and shores of lakes and rivers, westward on short-grass prairies, in mountain woodlands, and on stream banks, to the south sometimes in low sandy pine woods, mostly 10-3000 feet but ascending to 3500 feet in the Appalachians and to 7000 feet in Colorado." (bibref: 1814).


Bibref 1814 - Atlas of North American Astragalus Volume 2 (1964) Barneby, Rupert C.

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Astragalus canadensis var. canadensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Astragalus canadensis var. canadensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Astragalus canadensis var. canadensis


Record Modified: 2020-12-07
Research By: Joseph A. Marcus

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