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Astragalus feensis
(Santa Fe milkvetch)

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



Family: Fabaceae

Scientific Name: Astragalus feensis M.E. Jones

Synonyms: Hamosa feensis (M.E. Jones) Rydberg; Astragalus sanctae-fidei Tidestrom

Vernacular Name: Santa Fe milkvetch

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

Description: Perennial; stems short, prostrate, 1-6 cm long; herbage densely villous or villosulous with basifixed hairs; leaves 4-9 cm long; leaflets (7)9-15, often folded, 3-12 mm long, 2-3 times longer than wide; stipules free; inflorescences taller than or included in the foliage, with 7-12, densely or loosely disposed ascending-spreading pea-like flowers; calyx tubes tubular, 4.5-6.5 mm long, calyx lobes 1-2 mm; corolla 12-16 mm long, pale pink-purple; fruits divaricate-humistrate, sessile, bilocular or nearly so, deciduous, dehiscent, body curved to 180, triquetrous (3-sided), short-beaked, (1)2-3 cm long, 4-5 mm wide, dorsally sulcate (furrowed on side away from stem), valves leathery, reticulate, strigulose. Flowers April through June.

Similar Species: The key features of A. feensis are basifixed pubescence, free stipules, and curved, triquetrous, bilocular pods. When in flower, it looks similar to A. tephrodes var. tephrodes, which also has curved, triquetrous fruits and basifixed pubescence; however the fruits of A. tephrodes are unilocular and it grows in southwestern New Mexico. Astragalus feensis is related to A. waterfallii, another rare plant (southeastern New Mexico and adjacent Trans-Pecos Texas); however, the flowers of A. waterfallii are larger and its fruits are mostly straight. Astragalus feensis is frequently found growing with A. missouriensis, which has dolabriform pubescence.


Distribution: New Mexico, Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Torrance, and Hidalgo counties.

Habitat: Sandy benches and gravelly hillsides in piņon-juniper woodland or plains-mesa grassland; 1,550-1,830 m (5,100-6,000 ft).

Remarks: Originally collected by Fendler in the 1840s, it was not located again until the 1940s or 1950s. That the species was not collected for a century after its discovery is curious for it is relatively common in suitable habitat within its range. There is a single recent collection for the species well outside its normal range from a roadside in Hidalgo County where probably it was introduced and will not persist.

Conservation Considerations: Some populations have undoubtedly been affected by urban or rural development, but many populations are isolated, safe from most disturbances, and not threatened by the current land uses.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Barneby, R.C. 1964. Atlas of North American Astragalus. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 13:1-1188.

Isely, D. 1998. Native and naturalized Leguminosae (Fabaceae) of the United States (exclusive of Alaska and Hawaii). Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Information Compiled By: David Bleakly, 1999

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Astragalus feensisSoCSoC...S3G3


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