Astragalus

Genus Astragalus
Legume Family (Fabaceae/Leguminosae)



Astragalus plant

Astragalus
(Loco weed)

There are many species of Astragalus, and some of them are very hard to differentiate. A common one on the Wasatch foothills is Astragalus utahensis, also called the Pink Lady Slipper. It is probably the species shown in the top two photos.


Close-up of astragalus blossoms

Some others that may be found here:
Astragalus beckwithii
Astragalus cibarius
Astragalus miser
Astragalus lentiginosus
Astragalus purshii
Astragalus diversifolius
  (more)


Many of these are addictive and poisonous to livestock, causing an incurable insanity. They are called "loco weeds", from a Spanish word meaning "crazy".


An astragalus plant with yellow blossoms

Astragalus plants grow on dry gravelly hillsides. They have compound pinnate leaves, often covered with fuzz. The blossoms in the different species can be various colors -- purple, lavender, pink, blue, white, cream, or yellow.

The seeds grow in pods, similar to pea pods. In some species these pods are covered with woolly fuzz, other kinds are smooth.