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Astragalus heilii
(Heil's milkvetch)

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

Family: Fabaceae

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

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Heil's milkvetch

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

Description: Low, subcaulescent perennial; basifixed pubescent; stems mostly 2-4 cm long, obscured by stipules and leaf bases; stipules 2-3 mm long, merely amplexicaul or the lowermost connate-sheathing; leaves 1-2.5 cm long; leaflets mostly 7-13, elliptic, obtuse, strigulose on both sides 2-3.5 mm long, 1-1.6 mm wide; peduncles 1-7 cm long, racemes with (1)2-4 ascending flowers; flowers pea-like; calyx 2.3-3 mm long, the tube 1.7-0.9 mm long; petals whitish or tinged violet; pods spreading or pendulous, the body ellipsoid, subinflated, 9-9.8 mm long, 4.5-4.6 mm thick, slightly dorsiventrally compressed, thin-walled, red-mottled, unilocular; ovules 8-10. Flowers in May.

Similar Species: Astragalus knightii can be distinguished from A. heilii by the presence of dolabriform hairs on A. knightii. Astragalus heilii is similar to Astragalus kerrii from which it differs by having marcescent leaves and peduncles that form a thatch and the plant is smaller in all parts than for A. kerrii.

Distribution: New Mexico, McKinley County.

Habitat: Rim rock ledges of the Mesa Verde Group, in piƱon-juniper woodland; 2,195 m (7,200 ft).

Remarks: Astragalus heilii is a very narrow endemic known only from the type location on the Navajo Nation near Borrego Pass. 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 heiliiAstragalus heilii...S1Gp 4

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