South Dakota Native Plant Research
Fabaceae : Pediomelum argophyllum

Fabaceae : Pediomelum argophyllum


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Family Name


Common Name

Silverleaf scurf-pea, Silverleaf Indian breadroot

Native American Name

Lakota: Ticanicahu xloxota, híčaničahu


Pediomelum argophyllum is a perennial herb with multiple, erect to ascending, widely branching stems, 20-80 cm in height, growing from a subterranean caudex that forms colonies. The stems are usually covered in silvery hairs. The alternate leaves are palmately compound with 3 to 5 leaflets with 1-5 cm long petioles. The leaflets are 1–4 cm long, with entire margins, and covered with dense, shiny hairs. The inflorescence consists of axillary spikes, 2–9 cm long including the peduncle, with 1 to 5 leafy bracts and 2-5 well separated whorls of 3-6 flowers each. The densely hairy calyx forma a campanulate tube with 2 lips, 2–3 mm long with 4 upper teeth, 2.5-3 mm long and a lower tooth 7-10 mm in length. The purple, papilionaceous corolla has a banner 5-7 mm long with a short spur, the wings are 4-6 mm long and the keel 4-5 mm long. The fruit is a hairy, 1-seeded legume, 7-9 mm long with a short beak, and mostly enclosed by the calyx. Silverleaf scurf-pea blooms from July into September on prairies, hillsides, open woodlands, sand dunes and in stream valleys throughout South Dakota.

Synonym: Psoralea argophylla,

Additional Notes

Silverleaf scurf-pea is a beautiful plant with silvery herbage and delicate purple flowers, that attract native bees and butterflies. After the fruit matures, the above ground stems detach and are blown like tumbleweeds. Once established, it is long-lived and forms colonies with new stems coming up from the spreading root system.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Seeds begin to drop in August and September before the plant break free and blow away. Placing a net bag over the maturing fruit and tying it to a stake will ensure success.

Seed Germination: The seedcoat enforces dormancy. Fall sowing or scarification with sandpaper or chipping the seedcoat with the tip of a small sharp knife will allow germination.

Vegetative propagation: Clusters of plants from root sprouts can be divided and transplanted.

Soils: Well drained sandy or loamy soils.

Light: Full sun.

Fabaceae : Pediomelum argophyllum