Fabaceae (Leguminosae) (Pea Family)
A large family represented in the range by herbs or shrubs with compound leaves composed of three to many leaflets. The common form is an odd-pinnate leaf with leaflets on either side of a rachis (leaf stem) plus a terminal leaflet. Lupines and clovers, however, have palmate leaves, in which the leaflets radiate from a central point, as fingers from the palm of a hand. Flowers are irregular and pealike with a tubular calyx. In lupines the calyces of some are enlarged or even shortly spurred at the upper side of the base. Two lower petals are united to form a keel. These are usually covered by two lateral petals known as the "wings," and a fifth petal, the "banner," is turned upward about midway. The fruit is a legume (pod) with few to many seeds.
Astragalus calycosusTorr. Little Gray Milk-vetch. (Plate 6.78) A small, tufted, gray perennial, generally 2–4 in (5–10 cm) across. The leaves are 1–2 1/2 in (25–64 mm) long with obovate leaflets 1/4–1/2 in (6–13 mm) long. Flower racemes are slightly longer than the leaves, so they are inclined to form an outer ring around the foliage.
Flowers are about 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Pods are papery, slender oblong, and up to 5/8 in (15 mm) long. Another common name for taxa of Astragalus is locoweed, or simply loco, which implies detrimental effects to livestock; however, few if any of the species here are guilty. Flower: Lavender or pinkish, fading bluish.
Distribution. Widespread on limestone flats or slopes, common in the Bristlecone Pine Forest; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 6,500–11,500 ft (1,982–3,506 m).
Astragalus cimaeJones var. sufflatus(Barneby). Broad-shouldered Milk-vetch. (Plate 6.79) A perennial with glabrous green foliage and stems up to 12 in (3 dm) long. Leaves are 2–4 in (5–10 cm) long with ovate to roundish leaflets, most about 1/2 in (13 mm) long. The flowers, 1/2 in (13 mm) or more long, are slender with the banner gently curved upward. The pods are thick-papery, inflated, 1 1/4–1 1/2 in (3–4 cm) long and 1/2–3/4 in (6–20 mm) wide, abruptly straight across the base and tapered toward a pointed tip. The distinguishing features are the pod's square end and its long stem (stipe), 1/4–1/2 in (6–13 mm) long, which protrudes from the calyx when mature. Flower: Petals purple with white wing tips.
Distribution. Endemic to the east side of the Inyo Mountains; Desert Scrub to Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 5,000–6,800 ft (1,524–2,073 m).
Astragalus coccineusBrandegee. Scarlet Loco, Scarlet Milk-vetch. (Plate 6.80) A tufted perennial with white-woolly foliage, only as tall as its 2–4 in (5–10 cm)-long leaves. Each leaf has seven to fifteen elliptic to broadly obovate leaflets, 1/4–1/2 in (6–12 mm) long. Flowering stems bear clusters of showy blooms just above the leaves. Although the flowers have the typical pea parts, they are long and slender. Their tubular appearance and bright color attract hummingbirds, which pollinate them. The calyx is 5/8 in (15 mm) long and the entire flower is at least twice that length. The pods are plump and white-furry, curving to a pointed tip, about 1 1/4 in (3 cm) long. Flower: Scarlet.
Distribution. Gravelly banks or pockets between rocks; infrequent, mostly on granitic or volcanic rocks; Desert Scrub, 3,500–6,500 ft (1,067–1,982 m).
Astragalus inyoensisSheldon. Inyo Milk-vetch. (Plate 6.81) A spreading perennial with prostrate or ascending stems, 6–24 in (1.5–6 dm) long. Stems are slender and the foliage sparse. Leaves are only 1/2–1 1/2 in (13–38 mm) long, their crowded leaflets hardly 1/4 in (6 mm) long. The flowers, in terminal clusters, are about 3/8 in (1 cm) long. The distinctive, incurved little pods, about 1/2 in (13 mm) long, appear to have been mashed in the middle and are deeply grooved underneath. They are thinly leathery, commonly purplish, and are attached by a stipe about as long as the calyx. Flower: Dull pink-purple to yellowish.
Distribution. Gravelly flats, most common in Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–9,500 ft (1,829–2,896 m).
Astragalus kentrophytaGray var. elatus(Watson) Barneby. Inyo Prickly Milk-vetch. (Plate 6.82) A grayish perennial with rigid, trailing stems, 4–16 in (1–4 dm) long, naked between the leaf nodes, which are an inch, more or less, apart. Leaves are stiff and prickly with linear, spine-tipped leaflets 1/4–1/2 in (6–13 mm) long. Flowers, too, are borne at the nodes and are relatively inconspicuous, only 1/4 in (6 mm) or less long. The teardrop-shaped pods are about the same length. This strange plant is much larger and coarser than other varieties of the genus. Flower: Off-white, commonly purplish-veined.
Distribution. Locally abundant; open places in the Bristlecone Pine Forest in the Inyo Mountains, scarce in the White Mountains; Subalpine Zone, 9,500–10,500 ft. This is a disjunct site. The nearest known population of this variety is in Lincoln County, Nevada, close to the Utah line, lower in elevation.
Var.implexus(Canby) Barneby. Dolomite Milk-vetch. A minute, compact variety growing in small tufts or mats. Leaves are 3/16 in (5 mm) long, closely set, and very fine in comparison to var. elatus . Flowers and pods are about the same size, however. Flower: Pink-purple with white wingtips.
Distribution. Common on dolomite in the Bristlecone Pine Forest; White Mountains; Subalpine and Alpine zones, 9,000–12,000 ft (2,744–3,658 m).
Astragalus lentiginosusDouglas var. fremontii(Gray) Watson. Paper Loco, Freckled Milk-vetch. (Plate 6.83) A perennial or winter annual, bushy or sprawling, with stems 10–20 in (24–50 cm) long. Leaflets are mostly obovate and less than 1/2 in long, but they are extremely variable. Flower racemes rise well above the leaves. Flowers are 3/8–1/2 in (10–13 mm) long. Pods are papery and roundly inflated with an abruptly pointed beak, usually purplish or reddish mottled, and are about 3/4 in (2 cm) long. Flower: Purple.
Distribution. Widespread, commonly abundant on open slopes or flats; Desert Scrub to Subalpine Zone, 4,000–10,300 ft (1,220–3, 140 m).
Var.semotusJepson. Little Paper-pod. A perennial, much like var. fremontii but a smaller, more compact plant. Leaflets are smaller and more crowded, and flower racemes are short, not over 1 1/2 in (4 cm) long. The pods are usually highly colored, mottled in shades of rose red.
Distribution. Open places, usually on flats; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 7,500–11,200 ft (2,287–3,415 m).
Astragalus minthorniae(Rydb.) Jepson var.villosus. Erect Milk-vetch. A sturdy perennial with rigidly erect stems, usually 12–18 in (3–4.5 dm) high. The plant is coated throughout with short, soft hairs. Leaflets are ovate, averaging 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Flowering spikes rise well above the leaves. Flowers are 1/2 in (13 mm) long,
and the calyx, which has black hairs, is about half that length. Pods are slender but plumply cylindrical, 3/4 in (2 cm) long and about 1/8 in (3 mm) wide, nearly straight, and grooved underneath. They are angled upward or widely spreading. Flower: Rather dull pink-purple with white wing tips.
Distribution. This is a disjunct population that appears to be narrowly restricted to the northern part of the Inyo Mountains; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 4,500–7,600 ft (1,372–2,317 m).
Astragalus newberryiGray. Newberry Milk-vetch. (Plate 6.84) A small, tufted perennial, whitish with appressed silky hairs. The leaves are only a few inches high, the leaflets elliptic to obovate, 3/8–1/2 in (10–13 mm) long. The flower stalk, which does not exceed the leaves, carries three to eight showy blooms, each 1 in (2.5 cm) long. Pods are densely white-furry and plump, about 3/4 in (2 cm) long, abruptly curved to a short beak. Flower: Pink-lavender except for a white area in the banner, which is streaked with lavender.
Distribution. Relatively common on rocky limestone slopes; Bristlecone Pine Forest; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 5,000–9,500 ft (1,524–2,896 m).
Astragalus oophorusWatson. Big-podded Milk-vetch, Spindle loco. (Plate 6.85) A perennial 4–10 in (1–2.4 dm) high, with green foliage and very large pods. Leaflets are broadly ovate, 1/8–3/4 in (3–20 mm) long. Flowers are 1/2 in (13 mm) long, with the banner abruptly turned upward. The hanging pods are bladdery and inflated, broadly spindle-shaped, papery, and strongly mottled, 1 1/4–1 1/3 in (3–4.5 cm) long. The entire plant is handsome. Flower: Purple with white wing tips.
Distribution. Flats and loamy slopes; Pinyon-juniper Woodland to Subalpine Zone, 6,500–10,400 ft (1,982–3, 170 m).
Astragalus purshiiDouglas var. tinctusJones. Long-flowered Pursh Milk-vetch. A tufted perennial, very similar to A. newberryi . The white hairs on the foliage and pods are dull with less sheen. Pods are not as abruptly curved. Flower: Lavender.
Distribution. Relatively common on granitic and volcanic rocks; Desert Scrub to Subalpine Zone, 6,000–10,300 ft (1,829–3, 140 m).
Dalea searlsiae(Gray) Barneby. Prairie Clover.(Petalostemum searlsiae) (Plate 6.86) An erect perennial, 12–20 in (3–5 dm) high, from a branching root crown. The plant is dotted throughout with glands. The well-spaced leaves are 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long, with three to five narrowly oblong leaflets about 1/2 in (13 mm) long. The inflorescence is a very dense conical spike, 1/2–1 1/2 in (13–38 mm) long. The flowers are so small and densely packed that it takes a hand lens to study them, but they are richly colored and beautiful in detail. Pods are equally small, about 1/8 in (3 mm) long. Flower: Rose.
Distribution. Unusual in California but reaches into the Inyo Mountains; Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–8,400 ft (1,829–2,561 m).
Lupinus argenteusPursh var. tenellus(Douglas) D. Dunn. Limestone Lupine. (Plate 6.87) A bushy perennial, 15–25 in (36–63 cm) tall, with silvery foliage. Hairs on the stems and foliage are appressed, giving the plant a sleek, satiny appearance. All lupines have palmate leaves. They are well distributed throughout the bush, each with five to nine linear-oblanceolate leaflets up to 1 1/2 in (25–38 mm) long. The pealike flowers are 3/8 in (1 cm) long, and the calyx is enlarged at the base but not actually spurred. Flower: Blue or lilac, rarely white.
Distribution. Common to abundant on limestone slopes in the White Mountains, making showy fields of color, but not common in the Inyo Mountains; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 6,400–11,000 ft (1,957–5,354 m).
Lupinus brevicaulisWatson. Short-stemmed Blue Lupine. A small, densely hairy annual, 1–4 in (2.5–10 cm) high, the stem almost lacking. Leaf stems (petioles) are 1–3 in (2.5–8 cm) long, the leaflets spatulate and up to 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Flowers are 1/4 in (6 mm) long and the pods about 3/8 in (10 mm). Flower: Bright blue with some yellowish white.
Distribution. Common on noncalcareous soils; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–9,000 ft (1,829–2,744 m).
Lupinus flavoculatusHeller. Yellow-eyes. (Plate 6.88) A tufted, softly hairy annual, 2–6 in (5–15 cm) high. Slender leaf stems (petioles) are 3/4–2 in (2–5 cm) long, and the green, broadly oblanceolate leaflets are 1/4–3/4 inch (6–20 mm) long. They are softly hairy below but glabrous above, and folded, boat-shaped. The spreading stems are slender, usually reddish purple, and up to 6 in (15 cm) long, with blooms in dense terminal clusters. Individual flowers are about 3/8 in (1 cm) long. Pods are short and broadly ovate, most less than 1/2 in (13 mm) long. This small annual makes colorful patches of groundcover in years of abundant precipitation. Flower: Rich deep violet with prominent yellow spot on the banner.
Distribution. Open places; Desert Scrub to Pinyon-juniper Woodland, up to 7,500 ft (2,287 m).
Lupinus palmeriWatson. Palmer Lupine. (Plate 6.89) A bushy perennial, 12–24 in (3–6 dm) tall, with grayish-green foliage. Hairs on the stems and foliage are looser than those on the bushy limestone lupine. The leaflets are inclined to be broader and longer, up to 2 in (5 cm) long. Flower racemes on this one are 4–8 in (1–2 dm) long and rather narrow. Flowers are roundish in outline, about 3/8 in (1 cm) long. The calyx on this one, too, is enlarged but not actually spurred at the base. These two bush lupines are very similar, but there are subtle differences in appearance. The foliage in L. palmeri lacks a sheen, the inflorescence is longer and narrower, and the
flower color is duller. Also, the plant tolerates drier places, and it does not grow in dense colonies. Flower: Dull blue.
Distribution. Dry flats and slopes; most common in Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–9,600 ft (1,829–2,927 m).
Lupinus tegeticulatusEastwood var. tegeticulatus. (Lupinus breweri Gray var. bryoides C.P. Smith) Silver Moss. (Plate 6.90) A matted perennial with silky, silvery foliage. The tiny leaves are crowded, the leaflets 1/4 in (6 mm) long or less. The inflorescence is 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) high, rising slightly above the leaves. Flowers are about 1/4 in (6 mm) long. In the field the silvery foliage appears to be dotted with tiny flower clusters. Pods are oblong, up to 1/2 in (13 mm) long. Flower: Violet-blue with a prominent white area on the banner.
Distribution. Mostly on the open sagebrush slopes high in the White Mountains; Subalpine Zone, 9,500–11,000 ft (2,896–3,354 m).
Oxytropis parryiGray. Parry Oxytropis. (Plate 6.91) A small but sturdy perennial with leaves tufted on branches of the root crown. The foliage is light gray with long, silky hairs. Leaflets are pinnate, as in Astragalus . They are commonly folded, boat-shaped, and usually less than 1/4 in (6 mm) long. Naked flower stems rise above the leaves, 1 1/2–4 in (4–10 cm) high. They usually carry two flowers, 1/4 in (6 mm) long or slightly larger. Pods are erect, cylindric, and thinly leathery with a hairy surface, approximately 3/4 in (2 cm) long. The keel petals of Oxytropis narrow to a point at the apex. Flower: Pink.
Distribution. Open, rocky slopes and flats; White Mountains; Subalpine Zone, 10,400–11,000 ft (3,171–3,354 m).
Psorothamnus arborescens(Torr.) Barneby var.minutifolius(Parish) Barneby. Indigo Bush, Blister Dalea.(Dalea sp.) (Plate 6.92) Rupert Barneby has placed the shrubby daleas in the genus Psorothamnus . According to him, however, this plant has been incorrectly called Dalea fremontii, a species that never occurred here. Therefore, we do not show that as a synonym. The considerable variation in leaf form, calyx color, number of glands on various parts, and other characteristics of plants observed in different locations, still leads to confusion. It is best to accept the fact that there are normal variations within this variety.
A rigid, spreading, white-barked shrub, 1–3 ft (3–9 dm) high. Leaves are pinnate, 3/4–2 in (2–5 cm) long, the ovate leaflets up to 3/8 in (1 cm) long. Flowering spikes are mostly 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long and quite showy, elongating as they mature. The pealike flowers are 3/8 in (1 cm) long, the petals twice the length of the commonly reddish calyx. Pods are obliquely ovate, abruptly pointed, and about 3/8 in (1 cm) long. The distinguishing feature is the pods' blister-dotted surface, the blisters being amber glands containing an oil with a characteristic "dalea" odor. (On the true Fremont Dalea, the glands are confluent into ridges rather than being scattered dots.) Flower: Intense royal or deep purplish blue.
Distribution. Common to nearly dominant in dry, gravelly places; Desert Scrub, low elevations to 6,000 ft (1,829 m).
Trifolium andersoniiGray ssp. monoense(Greene) Gillett. Mono Clover. (Plate 6.93) A deep-rooted perennial, only 1 in (2.5 cm) or so high, with foliage tufted on the branches of a well developed root crown. Leaves are palmate, with four to six gray-hairy, spatulate leaflets, abruptly pointed at the apex, up to 3/4 in (2 cm) long. The naked flower stems are 1–3 in (2.5–7.5 cm) long, each bearing a single globose head 1/2–1 in (13–25 mm) broad. The calyx teeth are long and linear, feathery-hairy, exceeding the densely clustered flowers. The flowers are mostly hidden in the hairy heads, but it is an interesting plant — a most unusual clover. Flower: Pink to rose.
Distribution. Common on high, open slopes, forming areas of groundcover; White Mountains; Subalpine and Alpine zones, 10,000–13,500 ft (3,049–4, 116 m).