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Astragalus pycnostachyus
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Marsh Milkvetch
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Astragalus pycnostachyus

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About Marsh Milkvetch (Astragalus pycnostachyus) Astragalus pycnostachyus is a species of milkvetch known by the common name marsh milkvetch. It is endemic to the coastline of California, where it grows in wet saline habitat such as marshes. The marsh milkvetch is a perennial herb forming a thick erect clump of hollow, woolly stems 40 to 90 centimeters tall. The leaves are up to 15 centimeters long and are made up of many narrow oval-shaped leaflets. The inflorescence is a cluster of many whitish to greenish flowers each up to a centimeter in length. The fruit is an inflated, papery legume pod with a small hooked beak at the tip. Varieties: The species has two named Varieties: Astragalus pycnostachyus var. lanosissimus - Ventura marsh milkvetch, now endemic to the Oxnard Plain in Ventura County, with only one population within Oxnard. The single extant population of this rare plant variety is now fenced and protected. The variety is treated as an endangered species on the federal level. Threats to its existence include near-total loss of habitat, infestation by weevils, cucumber mosaic virus infection, competition from non-native plants such as ice plant, and herbivory by the milk snail Otala lactea. Astragalus pycnostachyus var. pycnostachyus - marsh milk vetch, primarily found in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
1.3 - 3 ft (0.4 - 0.9 m)

Flower Color
White, Green

Native Status

Natural Setting
Elevation ?
-2' - 4182'

Annual Precip. ?
11.3" - 67.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 1.28"

Coldest Month ?
45.5° F - 56.7° F

Hottest Month ?
58.1° F - 75.0° F

Humidity ?
0.49 vpd - 22.95 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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