Fassett's Locoweed - Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Fassett's Locoweed (Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea)

A view of this diminutive legume in flower. Photo Credit:
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Threatened
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • State: WI
  • Nature Serve ID: 149002
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

O. campestris var. chartacea is one of the famous locoweeds known for causing cattle to behave in unusual ways. It is endemic to central Wisconsin. This species is extremely shade intolerant and suffers from habitat destruction and succession of the lake shores it inhabits. It relies on changing lake levels to maintain a moderate level of disturbance to keep out grasses and woody species that could shade it or crowd it out. Flowers appear from mid-May through June, and seeds germinate on the lake shores where the species is found, as water levels drop during the summer months. (WIS 2002) This plant has a thick taproot, with many leaves clustered in rosette at the base of a short stem. Leaves are compound and 2-8 inches long, with 15 pairs of pointed leaflets, that are 5-20 millimeters in length. Most of the plant, including the leaves are covered in dense silky white hair, which gives the entire plant a silver/gray appearance. It has pea-like flowers that are rose/purple. There are 7-14 flowered raceme on each 12 inch stalk. The fruits develop as individual pods from each flower. The pods have papery walls with silky white or black hairs. They're 1/3 inch to 1/2 inch long. Each pod has numerous seeds inside. The reproduction is entirely through seed and not rhizomes. The seeds themselves are 1-2 millimeters wide. Each plant can have 1-10 individual reproductive spikes, and each spike can have 10-20 or more flowers and resulting legumes. The flowers can change color with age. (USFWS 1988)

Where is Fassett's Locoweed (Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea) located in the wild?


Found on the sand or gravel shorelines of small, landlocked lakes in areas that receive sunlight for part of the day. In other words, this species does not compete will with other species that can shade it out--it is shade intolerant. This open habitat is maintained by lake level fluctuations. (USFWS 1988)This species is associated with Carex spp., Juncus spp, and Eleocharis spp. (USFWS 1988)


Endemic to central Wisconsin. (USFWS 1988)

States & Provinces:

Fassett's Locoweed can be found in Wisconsin

Which CPC Partners conserve Fassett's Locoweed (Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 08/19/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

In 2021, CPC contracted University of Minnesota Landscape Aroboretum to recollect seed from a population currently held in long term orthodox seed storage as part of an IMLS-funded seed longevity experiment. The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation will evaluate how germination tested viability and RNA Integrity of seed lots decline over time in storage.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to central and northwestern Wisconsin and restricted to the shorelines of inland lakes. Only 7 occurrences are known extant. The species' habitat is susceptible to a wide range of detrimental activities. The greatest immediate threat is probably changes to the lake hydrology. invasive species (spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii) and sweet clover (Melilotus?ssp.)), and to a lesser extent, all-terrain vehicle use of the shorelines.

Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Lakeshore recreational development Shoreline development for houses Livestock grazing Vulnerable to disturbances of the local hydrological regime Motor vehicle use Trampling Herbicide and pesticide use in agricultural areas, Due to the locow

Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

At the time of listing, Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea was known from six sites containing less than 5,000 individual plants total, in Portage and Waushara Counties in central Wisconsin. (USFWS 1988)

Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None known.

Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None known.

Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

All existing populations need tracking of: population trends flower production seed set pollinator visitation frequency lakeshore development lakeshore (beach) traffic lake water quality aspects of the life history pollinator identification pollination success seed germination requirements duration of seed bank viability growth requirements.


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Taxon Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea
Authority (Fassett) Barneby
Family Fabaceae
CPC Number 3068
ITIS 195907
Common Names Cold Mountain crazyweed | Fassett's locoweed | field locoweed | Northern yellow locoweed
Associated Scientific Names Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea | Oxytropis chartacea
Distribution Endemic to central Wisconsin. (USFWS 1988)
State Rank
State State Rank
Wisconsin S1S2
Ecological Relationships

None known.

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bumble bees Bombus kirbyellus Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bumble bees Bombus sylvicola Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bumble bees Bombus nevadensis Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bumble bees Bombus mixtus Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bumble bees Bombus flavifrons Confirmed Pollinator Link

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