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

Astragalus alpinus L. var. alpinus
alpine milk-vetch (alpine milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Ryan Durand  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #10841)

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Distribution of Astragalus alpinus var. alpinus
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Species Information

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Low mat-forming perennial herb from a taproot and rhizomes; stems few to several, decumbent to ascending, 5-35 cm long, slender, branched, with short, appressed, unbranched hairs.
Alternate, pinnately compound, 5-15 cm long, stalked; leaflets 13 to 25, egg-shaped to oblong-elliptic, rounded to notched at the tip, 5-15 (20) mm long, appressed-hairy, the stalks equal to or longer than the leaves; stipules 1-8 mm long, the lower ones joined and clasping the stem.
Inflorescence a short, axillary raceme of 5 to 30 pea-like flowers, the flowers ascending at first, later nodding, the racemes 1-6 cm long on stalks from shorter to longer than the leaves; corollas pinkish- to bluish-purple, often white towards the base, 7-15 mm long, the darker-purple keel about as long as the banner, both longer than the wings; calyces bell-shaped, short-black-hairy, 3-6 mm long, the awl-shaped teeth about half the length of the tube.
Pods, ellipsoid-oblong, drooping from a slender stalk about as long (1-3 mm) as the calyx teeth, black appressed-hairy, membranous, 8-17 mm long, grooved below, almost 2-chambered, the partition sometimes nearly complete.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic streambanks, river terraces, meadows, rocky slopes, heath, tundra and open forests in the montane to alpine zones; frequent in BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to ID, MT, NM, NV, WA and NE OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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 alpinus subsp. alaskanus HultΘn
Astragalus alpinus subsp. arcticus HultΘn
Astragalus astragalinus (Hook.) A. L÷ve & D. L÷ve
Atelophragma alpinum (L.) Rydb.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References