Canadian milkvetch

(Astragalus canadensis var. canadensis)

Conservation Status
Canadian milkvetch
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

     
  Midwest

FAC - Facultative

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Canadian milkvetch is an erect, usually robust, perennial forb rising on one to a few stems from a spreading underground stem (rhizome). It can be 12 to 60 tall, though in Minnesota it is usually no more than 40 in height.

The stems are usually erect to ascending, but sometimes recline on the ground with only the tips ascending (decumbent). The are hollow, often branched toward the top, and covered with appressed, pick-shaped (malpighian) hairs. The hairs are parallel to the stem.

The leaves are alternate and 4 to 8¾ long, sometimes longer. They are pinnately divided into 13 to 35 leaflets. Each leaf has a terminal leaflet and an odd total number of leaflets. At the base of each leaf stalk there is a lance-shaped to triangular, to 11 16 long, leaf-like appendage (stipule) at the base of each leaf stalk.

Each leaflet is are oblong or elliptic, to 1½ long, and to wide. They are rounded or notched at the tip with a minute, short, sharp point at the tip. The upper surface is hairless or almost hairless. The lower surface is covered with malpighian hairs. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is a dense, unbranched, whorled cluster (raceme) of 30 to 70 flowers rising on a 2 to 8 long stalk from the upper leaf axils. It is stiff, upright, and 1 to 6 long, 1 or 2 longer than the subtending leaf. It is and held above the leaves. The flowers are widely spreading to somewhat bent backward.

Each flower is ½ to long. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 10 stamens. The sepals are fused for most of their length into a to 5 16 long, cylinder-shaped tube (calyx), then separated into 5 lobes that are up to half as long as the calyx tube. The calyx is less than half as long as the corolla. The petals are creamy-white to greenish-white, often with a yellowish tinge. They form a butterfly-like corolla, as is typical of plants in the Pea family. They are organized into a broad banner petal at the top, two lateral wing petals, and between the wings two petals fused into a keel. The banner is notched at the tip. The wings and banner are equal in length.

The fruit is an inflated, cylinder-shaped, 5 16 to ¾ long, to ¼ wide seed pod. The pod is hairless and is not grooved. It is held erect or spreading, not drooping.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

12 to 40

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Greenish-white

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, thickets, woodland edges and openings. Full to partial sun.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to August

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

 
  10/28/2013      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  
 

Order

Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  
 

Family

Fabaceae (peas, legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae (Papilionoideae)  
  Tribe Galegeae (milkvetches, locoweeds, and allies)  
  Subtribe Astragalinae  
  Genus Astragalus (milkvetch)  
  Species Astragalus canadensis (Canadian milkvetch)  
       
 

There are three varieties of Canadian milkvetch. Only var. canadensis occurs in Minnesota.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
       
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Astragalus canadensis var. carolinianus

Astragalus canadensis var. longilobus

Astragalus carolinianus

Astragalus halei

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Canada milk vetch

Canadian milk-vetch

Canadian milkvetch

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Axil

The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.

 

Calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.

 

Corolla

A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.

 

Decumbent

Reclining on the ground but with the tips ascending.

 

Malpighian hairs

Hairs that are widely forked, attached at the middle, and tapered at each forked end; pick-shaped hairs.

 

Pinnate

Having the leaflets of a compound leaf arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk.

 

Raceme

An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Stipule

A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

       
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Plant

  Canadian milkvetch   Canadian milkvetch
       
  Canadian milkvetch   Canadian milkvetch
       

Inflorescence

  Canadian milkvetch   Canadian milkvetch
       
  Canadian milkvetch   Canadian milkvetch
       

Leaf

  Canadian milkvetch   Canadian milkvetch
       

Leaves

  Canadian milkvetch    
       

Infructescence

  Canadian milkvetch   Canadian milkvetch
       
  Canadian milkvetch   Canadian milkvetch
       
  Canadian milkvetch    
       
       

 

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