Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Freckled Milkvetch

The freckled milkvetch,
also known as the spotted locoweed (Astragalus lentiginosus) is a species of legume. There are a great many wild varieties that vary in appearance (19 in California, 7 of which are in San Bernardino County). I narrowed down what I saw in the Mojave National Preserve, along Cima Road, in May 2010, to either the subspecies fremontii, also known as Fremont's milkvetch, or the subspecies variabilis, also known as the freckled milkvetch and dapplepod locoweed. The inflorescence holds up to 50 pealike flowers
which may be purplish
or whitish or a mix of both.
A unifying characteristic among most varieties is an inflated, beaked legume pod with a groove along the side. It pod appears to start out a light green
and then ultimately turn a mottled red.
The pod dries to a papery texture and dehisces (opens) starting at the beak to release the seeds.  Lentiginosus refers to the red mottling
commonly found on the pods which resemble freckles. A closer look at the leaves below.

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