E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Astragalus australis (L.) Lam.
southern milk-vetch (southern milk-vetch)
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #7337)

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Distribution of Astragalus australis
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a woody taproot and much-branched stem-base; stems few to several, tufted, decumbent to ascending, 10-40 cm long/tall, with short or long, unbranched hairs, or nearly glabrous.
Alternate, pinnately compound, 2-10 cm long, short-stalked to unstalked; leaflets 7-15, linear-oblong to lanceolate or elliptic, 7-25 mm long, hairy on both surfaces or glabrous above; stipules egg-shaped to oblong, 3-8 mm long, the lower ones joined and clasping the stem, the upper ones free.
Inflorescence a short, axillary raceme of 6 to 30 spreading, pea-like flowers, the racemes compact at first, later elongating, 2-12 cm long on stalks that exceed the leaves; corollas yellowish-white, often tipped or tinged with purple, the banner longer than the wings, which are notched at the tip and slightly longer than the keel; calyces 4-7 mm long, usually black-hairy, the awl-shaped teeth from 1/2 to nearly as long as the bell-shaped tube.
Pods, narrowly ellipsoid, somewhat sickle-shaped, 2-3 cm long, spreading to drooping on slender stalks 4-8 mm long, short-hairy becoming glabrous in age, membranous, slightly flattened, 1-chambered.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry, open bluffs, grassy or rocky slopes, streambanks, meadows, ridges, tundra and forest openings from the steppe to alpine zones; infrequent in extreme N and E BC, rare on the Queen Charlotte Islands; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to PQ and S to CO, UT, NV and OR; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Astragalus australis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 1070 1775 2550
Slope Gradient (%) 0 18 46
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
135 194 320
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 2 4
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(3), BAFA(4), ESSF(2), MS(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Astragalus aboriginorum Richardson
Astragalus aboriginorum var. fastigiorum M.E. Jones
Astragalus aboriginorum var. glabriusculus (Hook.) Rydb.
Astragalus aboriginorum var. lepagei (Hultén) B. Boivin
Astragalus aboriginorum var. richardsonii (Sheldon) B. Boivin
Astragalus aboriginum
Astragalus australis var. aboriginorum (Richardson) S.L. Welsh
Astragalus australis var. glabriusculus (Hook.) Isely
Astragalus australis var. lepagei (Hultén) S.L. Welsh
Astragalus australis var. major (A. Gray) Isely
Astragalus australis var. muriei (Rydb.) S.L. Welsh
Astragalus forwoodii S. Watson
Astragalus forwoodii var. wallowensis (Rydb.) M. Peck
Astragalus glabriusculus var. major A. Gray
Astragalus linearis (Rydb.) A.E. Porsild
Astragalus richardsonii Sheldon
Astragalus scrupulicola Fernald & Weath.
Atelophragma aboriginorum (Richardson) Rydb.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References