Astragalus adsurgens (Prairie Milkvetch)

Plant Info
Also known as: Standing Milk-vetch, Lavender Milk-vetch
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry prairie
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:6 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: round

[photo of flower] Pea-like flowers in a dense, erect cluster at the tips of stalks emerging from leaf axils. Flower clusters are round to cylindrical, up to 1 inch wide and to 2 inches tall; stalks are as long as or up to twice as long as the associated leaf. Flowers are about ½ inch long, color ranges from light lavender to blue to pink to nearly white. The calyx holding the flower is light green with white or black spotting from flattened hairs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 13 to 21, up to 3½ inches long by 1¼ inches wide, alternately attached. Leaflets average ½ inch long, are lance-elliptic to oblong, toothless with sparse to dense hairs on both surfaces. Dense multiple stems grow in spreading clusters up to 2 feet across from a single crown.


There are multiple varieties of Astragalus adsurgens, also known as Astragalus laxmannii; var. robustior is found in Minnesota. A species of dry prairies at cooler latitudes, Minnesota's western counties are at the eastern edge of its range in North America. Another variety of A. adsurgens is found in northern China and the Mongolian steppes, called Chinese standing milk-vetch, where it grows to five feet and is harvested as silage for livestock (yaks perhaps?). The plant structure of Prairie Milkvetch is similar to Ground Plum (A. crassicarpus), which has more open flower clusters and smaller leaflets.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Glacial Ridge State Park.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Daniel - Eastern Clay County
on: 2015-06-15 16:24:28

Found about six plants in a 40 acre plot I own that has a number of acres of tall grass prairie that has never been tilled.

Posted by: Terry - On the East side of Pelican Lake near Ashby, MN
on: 2015-07-04 20:18:29

Found this blooming in a protected bird and wildlife area. Thank you for helping me identify it.

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