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Santa Barbara Milk Vetch
Astragalus trichopodus

About Santa Barbara Milk Vetch (Astragalus trichopodus) Astragalus trichopodus is a species of legume known by the common name Santa Barbara milk vetch. It is native to southern California and Baja California, where it grows in several types of open habitat. This is a robust perennial herb producing a branching stem up to about a meter in maximum height. The hairy stem is lined with many leaves each up to 20 centimeters long which are made up of several pairs of widely-spaced lance-shaped leaflets each up to 2.5 centimeters in length. The flower cluster is a raceme of up to 50 flowers which are cream colored and sometimes tinted with light purple. Each flower is 2 or 3 centimeters long including its tubular base of sepals. The fruit is a laterally compressed, slightly inflated legume pod up to 4 or 5 centimeters long which dries to a papery texture. The fruits hang in bunches where they develop from the flower cluster. Each pod contains many seeds.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
0.7 - 3.3 ft (0.21 - 1 m)

Max. Width
3.3 - 4.9 ft (1.0 - 1.5 m)

Growth Rate

Leaves are each up to 20 centimeters long which are made up of several pairs of widely-spaced lance-shaped leaflets each up to 2.5 centimeters in length.

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
open grassy places, bluffs, rocky places


Elevation ?
-17' - 5333'

Annual Precip. ?
5.8" - 46.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.30"

Coldest Month ?
35.2° F - 57.2° F

Hottest Month ?
61.2° F - 80.3° F

Humidity ?
0.58 vpd - 29.30 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers well-draining soil

Soil PH
4.8 - 8.2


Wildlife Attracted
Butterflies: Queen Alexandra's Sulphur, Reakirt's Blue, Arrowhead Blue, Marine Blue

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Santa Barbara Milk-vetch, Santa Barbara Milkvetch

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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