Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Sandhills Milkvetch - Astragalus michauxii   (Kuntze) F.J. Hermann
Members of Fabaceae:
Members of Astragalus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Fabales » Family Fabaceae
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Author(Kuntze) F.J. Hermann
DistributionPrimarily limited to the Sandhills region (east to Harnett and Cumberland counties). However, it ranges eastward into the southern Coastal Plain to Pender and New Hanover counties.

This species has a narrow range, primariy limited to the Sandhills, from southeastern NC southwest to east-central GA. It is limited just to NC, SC, and GA.
AbundanceRare to uncommon in the Sandhills; very rare eastward. In fact, as it generally requires high-quality sandhills habitats managed by fire, it can be very rare in the Sandhills away from conservation areas. It is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatThis is a species limited to well-managed open Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) sandhills, typically where there is a very diverse herbaceous layer. Open pine stands that are not burned every decade or more typically do not have the species.
See also Habitat Account for Loammy, Fire-maintained Herb and Shrublands
PhenologyBlooms from late April into June, and fruits from June into October.
IdentificationThis is a fairly slender, though still somewhat tall, herb that usually grows to about 2 feet high. It has somewhat widely scattered leaves, which are highly pinnate, with 15-29 narrow leaflets that are only about 1/2-inch long. Most of the plant has a smooth, waxy, almost "rubbery" feel to the touch. Each plant has a few showy racemes of pink flowers, growing on long stalks to several inches in length. Each raceme is about 3-4 inches long, and each flower is about 1/3-inch long. Normally, one can easily identify the species in the field without the flowers, as the rather sparse number of strongly pinnate leaves on a waxy smooth stem will suffice. Of course, the pink flower clusters can be spotted at long distances when you are walking through an open pine stand.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Michaux's Milkvetch
State RankS3
Global RankG3
State StatusSC-V
US Status
USACE-agcp
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B.A. SorrieScotland County, 2008, Sandhills Game Land, loamy sand soil. ScotlandPhoto_natural
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