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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #7337)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Astragalus australis
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


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)
1775 1070 2550
Slope Gradient (%)
18 0 46

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

194 135 320
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 1 4
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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.