South Dakota Native Plant Research
Fabaceae : Astragalus ceramicus var. filifolius

Fabaceae : Astragalus ceramicus var. filifolius


Download Seeds (92 KB)

Download Seedlings (738 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Painted milkvetch


Astragalus ceramicus var. filifolius is a perennial herb from buried, spreading rhizomatous caudex. The solitary stems are lax to ascending, 3-40 cm long with silvery, stiff, appressed hairs. The compound leaves are alternate, odd pinnate, 2–17 cm long, often reduced to just the rachis, with the lower most leaves having 3-5 leaflets, with slender petioles and lanceolate stipules, 2–6 mm long, and often united basally. The inflorescence is comprised of axillary racemes of 2-7 white to light purple, papilionaceous flowers on peduncles of 1.5-7 cm in length. The hairy calyx tube is 2-3 mm long with teeth ~1 mm long. The banner is 6-9 mm long, the wings 6-8 mm long and the keel 6-8 mm long, all of the petals narrowed near the base. The fruit are legumes, each pod has a stipe of 1-3 mm in length, is inflated, red mottled, 3-5 cm long and 1.4-2.6 cm in diameter. Painted milkvetch blooms in June and July in sand dunes and sandy prairies in south central and northwest South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Painted milkvetch is an interesting plant to grow in a native plant garden, if you have sandy soils. The mottled pods provide a stark contrast to the unimpressive foliage.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed pods in mid to late summer.

Germination: The seed coat prevents germination. Fall sowing or scarification, by chipping the seedcoat with the point of a sharp small knife, and then spring sowing will allow germination.

Soils: Sandy soils.

Light: Full sun.

Water: Dry to mesic.

Fabaceae : Astragalus ceramicus var. filifolius