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Ground-plum Milk-vetch

Photo by Nancy Goulden

Common Name: Ground-plum Milk-vetch

Scientific Name: Astragalus crassicarpus

Family: Bean

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 6 - 8 inches

Bloom Period: April and May


Description: Sprawling, stems have alternate leaves 2-4 inches long bearing 15-27 oval leaflets. The tubular, ž-inch flowers are various shades of purple and are borne in clusters of as many as 24. Fruits, called legumes, are fleshy, smooth and round to 1 inch in diameter.

Comments: A large plant of Ground-plum Milk-vetch, also called “buffalo bean,” can cover a 2-foot diameter area. The conspicuous fruits are succulent when young, and edible raw or cooked. Fruits become deep-red as they mature. Cattle relish this plant and it decreases in abundance in over-grazed native ranges. Ground-plum Milk-vetch is a characteristic species of well-drained, upland soil. It is found statewide but most commonly in the eastern half of Kansas.

Ground-plum Milk-vetch fruits
Photo by Iralee Barnard