Idaho milkvetch as seen at the high point on Bakeoven Road to the northwest of Shaniko, OR..........May 14, 2010.
Also known as stiff milk-vetch, Idaho milk-vetch is an upright, many-stemmed perennial arising to a height of 40 cm. The stems and leaves are sparsely haired with minute, straight, stiff, sharp and appressed hairs. The leaves are numerous, from 7-30 cm long, with 13-31 leaflets which are linear to oblong-oblanceolate in shape, and 3-25 mm long and 1-4 mm wide (See photo below.). The margins of the leaflets are also rolled upwards (See photo below.) The leaves are held stiffly erect, helping give it one of its names, "stiff" milk-vetch.
The racemes are held equal to or slightly exceeding the leaves. They contain 7-35 flowers which may droop slightly or also be held erect or spreading. Individual flowers are creamy or slightly yellow-tinged in color and 13-23 mm long. The tips of the petals are often tipped with bluish-purple and the upturned tip of the keel is frequently tipped with purple. The banner is often well reflexed upward, and the wing petals are about 2-4 mm longer than the keel. The calyx is 6-15 mm long (varying from less than the width long to twice the thickness), whitish to blackish with appressed hairs. The calyx teeth are narrowly triangular and measure from 2-5 mm long. Bloom time is typically April through June.
The pods are smooth-skinned (glabrous), green at first, and 3-6 mm thick and up to 30 mm long. The pod may be straight to slightly arched and is held erect.
Idaho Milk-vetch: Astragalus conjunctus - Calyx cylindrical, 6-15 mm long, about 2 times as long as thick. Calyx teeth 1.5-3 mm long. Corolla white or with purplish tip to keel and banner. Leaflets 13-31. Pod glabrous. Found from Wasco County, northcentral Oregon east to the Blue Mts. and south to the the Steens Mt. and east to southwestern Idaho.
Hood River Milk-vetch: Astragalus hoodianus - Calyx bell-shaped, 11-15 mm long, about 1.5 times as long as thick. Calyx teeth 4.5-7.5 mm long. Leaflets 17-37. Pod pubescent. Found near the Columbia River Gorge in Wasco and Hood River Counties in Oregon and Klickitat County in Washington.
Yakima Milk-vetch: Astragalus reventiformis - Calyx bell-shaped, 8-12 mm long, about 1.5 times as long as thick. Calyx teeth 2.5-5 mm long. Leaflets 17-37. Pod pubescent. Found from Kittitas County in Washington near Ellensburg south to Klickitat County, Washington and south into Sherman County of Oregon.
Blue Mt. Milk-vetch: Astragalus reventus - Leaflets 23-41. Pod glabrous. Found in the Blue Mts. of northeastern Oregon near the headwaters of the Umatilla and Grande Ronde Rivers into southeastern Washington.
Sheldon's Milk-vetch: Astragalus sheldonii - Leaflets 23-41. Pod usually pubescent. Found from southern Asotin County in southeastern Washington south into Wallowa County, northeastern Oregon and into Lewis and Nez Perce Counties in Idaho.
Idaho milk-vetch is found on dry rocky slopes, scablands, and hilltops throughout the sagebrush desert. It typically is found above 2000 feet.
Idaho milk-vetch is primarily found east of the Cascade Mts. in north-central Oregon to the Blue Mts, and then southward a long the Malheur River to the Steens Mt. into southwest Idaho.
-Additional close-up photos of Idaho milk-vetch as seen from about one mile east of the summit of Oregon Highway 218 between Clarno, OR and Fossil, OR.........May 16, 2010.
-Close-up photos of a nice cluster of what may be Idaho milkvetch (variety conjunctus) as seen on slopes near Simcoe Butte in northern Klickitat County........June 16, 2007. Variety conjunctus is currently not recognized as being found in Washington. Other plants seen in these views include Eriogonum ovalifolium and Erigeron bloomeri. Note the close-up side view of the corolla with its purple tip to the keel. Note also the numerous hairs on the surface of the calyx. The calyx tube is cylindric, about twice as long as wide. The ovary is glabrous.
The photo above shows a leaf of Idaho milk-vetch. The leaflets are narrowly linear in outline and number between 13 and 37 per leaf.
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The photos above show close-up views of Idaho milk-vetch? as seen south of the John Day River along South Twickenham Road in north-central Oregon.........April 8, 2007. The flowers at this location seem to be slightly smaller than those seen at other Oregon locations.
- -The photos above show close-ups of Idaho milk-vetch as seen south of Condon, OR along Carter Hill Road, just west of its junction with Ramsey Canyon Road.........May 28, 2007.