Click to read about the Astragalus genus.

 This is a native species.

Astragalus chamaeleuce
Astragalus chamaeleuce
Astragalus chamaeleuce (Cicada Milkvetch)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 5, 2005.

This Astragalus shouts out at you with large, deep magenta flowers.  You'll hear it on hot, dry hillsides early in the spring.  Astragalus chamaeleuce grows in sprawling low mats of light green leaves topped by numerous clusters of flowers.  The upright banner of the flower curves backward slightly 

Astragalus chamaeleuce

and the two forward thrusting wings (bottom right in the above photograph) are long and narrow, enfolding the keel.  Seed pods are swollen and often almost spherical but tapered to a sharp prow-like point on one end.

"Chamae" is Greek for "on the ground" and "leuc" is Greek for "white"; perhaps these refer to the light color of the leaves and the sprawling growth pattern.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Questionable presence

Range map for Astragalus chamaeleuce