Astragalus crassicarpus (Ground Plum)
|Also known as:||Prairie Plum, Groundplum Milkvetch, Buffalo Bean|
|Habitat:||sun; dry prairies|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||4 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Racemes of 5 to 15 pea-shaped flowers. Flowers are about ¾ inch long with an erect broad egg-shaped upper petal, notched at the tip, and 2 small lower petals that are mostly horizontal. The tubular calyx holding the flower is purple tinged with several prong-like appendages at the tip end. Flower color ranges from pinkish purple to lavender to blue-violet. A plant has several to many clusters on stalks up to 4 inches long arising from the leaf axils.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in groups of 15 to 29. Leaflets are about 1/3 to ½ inch long, less than ¼ inch wide, generally elliptic with a pointed or blunt tip, hairy to varying degrees on both sides. Stems are hairy, sprawling along the ground and rising at the tip end (decumbent).
Notes:Both the Dakota and Lakota ate the Ground Plum fruit, but you should never eat wild plants unless you know what you are doing and have a positive ID. Many species in the legume family are toxic.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Grey Cloud Dunes SNA, Washington county. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota and Washington counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?