Fabaceae Astragalus lentiginosus

Two photos of multiple pink-purple flowers along a taller stem with small green leaves.

Astragalus lentiginosus var. palans

Family: Fabaceae (A Utah Flora – Leguminosae) – Pea Family

Perennial herbs from a taproot; 6.3” to 2' (1.6 to 6 dm) tall

Leaves: alternate; compound; leaves 1” to 6” (2.4 to 15 cm) long; 9 to 23 leaflets; leaflet 0.08” to 0.9” (2 to 23 mm) long, 0.04” to 0.5” (1 to 13 mm) wide

Flowers: racemes with 5 to 30 flowers; 5 pink-purple petals (a banner, 2 wings and 2 keels), keel is shorter than the wings, flowers 0.34” to 0.88” (8.4 to 22 mm) long; 5 sepals; 5-10 stamens; 1 pistil; bisexual

Pollinators: other Astragalus species are pollinated by insects (specifically bees, moths and butterflies)

Fruits: legume

Blooms in Arches National Park: March, April, May

Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities

Location seen: park road near Courthouse Wash

Other: The genus name, “Astragalus”, is the Greek name for “legume”, and may be derived from “astragalos” which means “ankle bone” referring to the shape of the leaves or the pods. The species name, “lentiginosus”, means “freckled or spotted” and the variety name, “palans” comes from “pallens” which means “pale”.

This family is ranked second to grasses in importance to people because species can fix nitrogen. However, some species, e.g., locoweeds and milkvetches, are poisonous due to selenium abstracted from the soil.

Last updated: December 16, 2021

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