Astragalus jejunus
Author: S. Wats.

starveling milkvetch

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Close up of Astragalus jejunus by Lynn Kinter
Click image to enlarge.

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G3
State rank: S1
Federal protection status: None
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Astragalus jejunus: no artwork available

General description: Low-growing, densely tufted, multi-stemmed perennial with a woody, branching caudex and stout taproot.  Inflorescence a 3-7 flowered raceme;  flowers 5-7 mm long; calyx tube 1.5-2 mm long, banner purple, wings white, keel lavender.  Pods bladdery-inflated, papery, purplish or red-mottled, almost spherical. The rachises of the leaves of the previous year persist as dried straws, but they are hardly rigid or spine-like.  The terminal leaflets are continuous with the rachis. (Ackerfield 2012, Weber and Wittmann 2012, Spackman and Anderson 2002).

Look Alikes: A.wetherillii has oval leaflets and does not have mottled pods.

Phenology: Flowers May through July (Cronquist 1989, Ackerfield 2012).

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Astragalus jejunus by Lynn Kinter, taken in Idaho
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Found on dry hilltops, gullied bluffs, and barren ridges or river terraces, on tuff, shale, sandstone, or clays (Cronquist 1989).
Uncommon in sandy or clay soil, often with sagebrush or juniper, 6500-7000 ft. (Ackerfield 2012).

Elevation Range: 6,634 - 6,824 feet (2,022 - 2,080 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Astragalus jejunus in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: This species is known from Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada (USDA NRCS 2012).
State range: Known in Colorado only from Moffat County.

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Threats have not been documented for the plants known from Colorado.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Barneby, R.C. 1964. Atlas of North American Astragalus. 2 Vols. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 1188 pp.
    • Barneby, R.C. 1989. Fabales. In A. Cronquist, A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, and P.K. Holmgren (eds.). Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 3, Part B. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 279 pp.
    • Cronquist A. 1989. Intermountain Flora Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, USA. Vol. 3, Part B. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.
    • Dorn, R.D. 1992. Vascular plants of Wyoming, 2nd edition. Mountain West Publishing, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.
    • Spackman, S. and D.G. Anderson. 2002. Colorado Rare Plant Field Guide 2002 Update. Unpublished report prepared by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. 26pp.
    • USDA, NRCS. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 532 pp.
    • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1996a. Colorado flora: Eastern slope. Revised edition. Univ. Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 524 pp.
    • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 2012a. Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope, a field guide to the vascular plants, fourth edition. University of Colorado Press. Boulder, Colorado. 555 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L. 2007. North American Species of Astragalus Linnaeus (Leguminosae) A Taxonomic Revision. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 932 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich, and L.C. Higgins (eds.) 1993. A Utah flora. 2nd edition. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah. 986 pp.

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