CPC Plant Profile: Skiff Milkvetch
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Plant Profile

Skiff Milkvetch (Astragalus microcymbus)

View of the long, sprawling stems. Note the small, white flowers held in loose racemes. Photo Credit: Carol Dawson
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Candidate for Listing
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • State: CO
  • Nature Serve ID: 155930
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/25/1988

Astragalus microcymbus is a freely branching perennial with large, inflated pods and grayish foliage. Its name means 'little boat', which refers to the fruits that resemble an inverted skiff. Its original discovery was very perplexing to Astragalus expert Dr. Barneby and University of Colorado botanist William A. Weber. On July 20th of 1945, Dr. Barneby found a few plants in Gunnison County, Colorado. He attempted to find enough for further studyafter 10 years of searching, Weber finally located more plants. They could not decipher how this species could have arrived in the area and projected that the species might have been introduced. Another botanist, Joseph Basin, disagreed but couldnt find any more populations until 1966. Now the species is believed to occur in and near the South Beaver Creek drainage.

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Updates
  • 10/02/2020
  • Demographic Research

The Denver Botanic Gardens are conducting studies on rare plant demography (the study of a species birth and death rates, age distributions, sex ratios, and population sizes) for this and other species in Colorado. (Dawson and Spurrier 1997)

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Astragalus microcymbus is a narrowly restricted endemic from the Gunnison Basin, in south central Colorado. There are a total of about 10,000 individuals. Rabbit herbivory is heavy.

Carol Dawson
  • 01/01/2010

Rabbit and insect herbivory.

Carol Dawson
  • 01/01/2010

A total of about 10,000 individuals (Von Bargen et al. 1997).

Carol Dawson
  • 01/01/2010

The Denver Botanic Gardens are conducting studies on rare plant demography (the study of a species birth and death rates, age distributions, sex ratios, and population sizes) for this and other species in Colorado. (Dawson and Spurrier 1997)

Carol Dawson
  • 01/01/2010

There is no formal management plan.

Carol Dawson
  • 01/01/2010

Population trends and reproductive ecology, especially in relation to herbivory would be useful to conservation efforts.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Astragalus microcymbus
Authority Barneby
Family Fabaceae
CPC Number 442
ITIS 25578
USDA ASMI3
Common Names skiff milk-vetch | skiff milkvetch
Associated Scientific Names Astragalus microcymbus
Distribution Colorado endemic (South Beaver Creek, Gunnison Co.). Currently there are no records from Saguache Co., but it is expected to be there because it occurs only three miles from the county line in simila
State Rank
State State Rank
Colorado S1
Habitat

Open sagebrush or juniper-sagebrush communities on moderately steep to steep slopes. Often found in rocky areas with a variety of soil conditions from clay to cobbles, gray to reddish in color. Elev. 7600-8400 ft (Spackman et al. 1997).

Ecological Relationships

Ecological relationships are unknown.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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