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Astragalus cliffordii
(Clifford's milkvetch)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]



Family: Fabaceae

Scientific Name: Astragalus cliffordii S. Welsh & N.D. Atwood

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Clifford's milkvetch

R-E-D Code: 3-1-3

Description: Caulescent perennial, 3.5-6.5 dm tall; basifixed pubescent; stems buried for 1-6 cm, erect-ascending, forming diffuse clumps; stipules 1.5-4.5 mm long, some connate-sheathing; leaves 3.5-6.5 cm long; leaflets 5-7 (9), linear, acute, strigose, 8-28 mm long, 0.4-1 mm wide; peduncles 1.2-12 cm long, racemes loosely 5-19 flowered, ascending; flowers pea-like; calyx 1.8-3 mm long, the tube 1.2-1.8 mm long; petals pale, faintly suffused with purple, 4.3-6.1 mm long; pods declined, 9-12 mm long, the body elliptic to oblong, straight or slightly curved, subinflated, 9-9.8 mm long, 2.5-3 mm wide, compressed, glabrous, unilocular; ovules 4 or 5. Flowers in June.

Similar Species: Astragalus cliffordii can be distinguished from A. wingatanus by the presence of its filiform peduncles and rachis, confluent terminal leaflet, and the tiny pale flowers with lilac penciled lines on the banner.


Distribution: New Mexico, McKinley County.

Habitat: Rim rock ledges of the Mesa Verde Group, in sagebrush and piņon-juniper woodland; 2,070 m (6,800 ft).

Remarks: Astragalus cliffordii is named for Navajo botanist Arnold Clifford. It is a very narrow endemic known only from the type location near the head of Wild Berry Canyon on the Navajo Nation. Additional field surveys are needed to determine its abundance and distribution.

Conservation Considerations: An inventory of potential habitat in New Mexico is needed to determine if current land uses pose a threat to this plant.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L.C. Higgins. 2003. A Utah Flora, 3rd ed. Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Information Compiled By: Kenneth D. Heil, 2007

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Astragalus cliffordiiSoCSoC...SNRGNR


Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council