Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Scarlet Milkvetch, Scarlet Locoweed
Astragalus coccineus

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Astragalus (ass-TRA-gal-uss) (Info)
Species: coccineus (kok-SIN-ee-us) (Info)

Synonym:Astragalus grandiflorus
Synonym:Astragalus purshii var. coccineus
Synonym:Xylophacos coccineus

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No positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral NatureWalker On Jan 16, 2005, NatureWalker from New York & Terrell, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Genus species var.Astragalus coccineus (Parry) Brandegee
Synonyms: Astragalus grandiflorus S.Watson,
Astragalus purshii var. coccineus Parry,
Xylophacos coccineus (Parry) A.Heller
Territory: SW.USA: Arizona, California, Nevada dry rocks and screes:
scree - (1. Loose rock debris covering a slope. 2. A slope of loose rock debris at the base of a steep incline or cliff.
3. A sloping mass of loose rocks at the base of a cliff.)

Altitude: 800-2200m
Description: densely tomentose-pubescent, leaves 5-10cm long, per stem few, crowded flowers, petals narrow, nearly erect, 35-40mm long, pod ovoid, acute, villous, 25-40mm long
Size: 5-10cm
Color: crimson
Bloom: summer
Type: tuft
Cultivation: sunny, dry, rock crevices, protection against winter wet, alpine house, poor, drained soil, sun.
Propagation: seed when ripe or in spring after scarification.
Scarlet Locoweed
Astragalus coccineus
Scarlet Milk-vetch

Description Long, red "pea flowers" angle upward in loose heads above tufted, white, woolly, pinnately compound leaves.
Flowers: 1 1/2" (3.8 cm) long.
Leaves: 7-15 broad leaflets, each 1/8-5/8" (3-15 mm) long.
Fruit: pod 1-1 1/2" (2.5-3.8 cm) long, covered with woolly white hairs, plump, often bending the stem with their weight and lying on the ground.
Height: 4-8" (10-20 cm).

Warning All plants in the genus Astragalus are potentially toxic to humans and animals if ingested, causing a disorder called locoism. The milk from an animal that has ingested Astragalus plants may also be toxic. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person's age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plant's different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Flower March-June.

Habitat Open gravelly ridges and benches with pinyon, juniper, or sagebrush.

Range Southeastern California to western Arizona and northern Baja California.

Of the several low, tufted western Astragalus species with plump, woolly pods, this is the most spectacular. The unusually long red flowers, a rare color in the genus, are positioned to be easily accessible to hummingbirds.

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