CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Astragalus desereticus

Photographer:
M.A. "Ben" Franklin

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Astragalus desereticus


Family: 
Fabaceae  
Common Name: 
Deseret Milkvetch
Author: 
Barneby
Growth Habit: 
Subshrub, Forb/herb
CPC Number: 
396

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Astragalus desereticusenlarge
Photographer: M.A. "Ben" Franklin

Astragalus desereticusenlarge
Photographer: M.A. "Ben" Franklin


Astragalus desereticus is Fully Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 

 
Astragalus desereticus


Astragalus desereticus was considered extinct for 72 years prior to 1981 when it was re-discovered by Elizabeth Neese. One, small population exists in Utah County on highly accessible land that is used for cattle grazing and wildlife management (Franklin 1990). Astragalus desereticus is a perennial, herbaceous plant that blooms in May and June with white flowers that have a purple tip on the keel. The fruiting peduncles are humistrate, with pods that are 1-2 cm long with lustrous hairs (TNC 1992). This species differs from A. piutensis because of its looser pubescence and more strongly graduated petals (UNPS 2003). The specific epithet refers to the State of Deseret, which is the name given to the Utah territory by the Mormons in 1849 (Barneby 1964).

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Utah
State Range of  Astragalus desereticus
Habitat
  Astragalus desereticus occurs primarily on steep south and west-facing slopes in an open pinyon-juniper community. This species grows exclusively on sandy-gravelly soils weathered from conglomerate outcrops of the Moroni Formation (Franklin 1990). The habitat of A. desereticus exists in a state of ‘perpetual succession’ due to high rates of soil erosion on the steeper slopes within its range (TNC 1992). Individuals are larger and highly concentrated on the more gradual slopes where soils are deeper and more stable. There appears to be no potential for the species to expand its distribution into the immediately surrounding areas due to dissimilar soil substrates. Additional areas of potential habitat should be surveyed where similar outcrops of the Moroni formation

Distribution
  The one population occurs in an area less than 120 hectares (300 acres).

Number Left
  The one population consists of between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals.

Protection

Global Rank:  
G1
 
3/30/2003
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
LT
 
10/20/1999
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
No
 

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Utah S1 11/29/1984  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Astragalus desereticus is a short-lived perennial that flowers and sets seed in May and June. The pods are deciduous at maturity and dehisce at the apex to release the seeds (Barneby 1964). Unlike many species of Astragalus, A. desereticus appears to be palatable to cattle. A. desereticus does not appear to be a selenophyte because it doesn’t produce a typical snake-like odor and no other selenophytes occur in the area. A. desereticus also tested negative for the compound, swainsonine, that is poisonous to cattle (TNC 1992). The primary pollinators of this species are likely bumblebees or other polylectic bees; however, no work has been conducted to determine the breeding system of this species (TNC 1992).

Threats
  Threats to this species include residential development, livestock grazing, trampling by livestock and wildlife, and soil erosion. The fact that this species is limited to one localized population suggests that threats associated with small population size are also important (USFWS 1998).

Current Research Summary
 

Current Management Summary
 

Research Management Needs
  (1) Initiate demographic monitoring to assess population trends and evaluate impacts from grazing and other environmental factors; (2) Conduct field searches to locate additional natural populations and to identify areas of suitable but unoccupied habitat for possible recovery efforts (Franklin 1990).

Ex Situ Needs
  Seed should be collected from the single population and stored at established conservation seed programs. If additional populations are found, seed should also be collected from these populations to increase the genetic diversity and gene pool for this species stored at conservation seed programs.

References

Electronic Sources

UNPS. (2003). Utah Native Plant Society Utah Rare Plant Guide. (Accessed 10/20/2003). http://www.unps.org/fg/rpg_species.html.

Journal Articles

USFWS. 1998. Proposed Rule: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Threatened Status for the Plant Astragalus Desereticus (Deseret milk-vetch). Federal Register. 63, 18. January 28, 1998

USFWS. 1999. Final Rule: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule to List: Astragalus desereticus (Deseret milk-vetch) as Threatened. Federal Register. 64, 202. October 20, 1999

Maps

Barneby, R.C. 1964. Atlas of North American Astragalus. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden. Volume 13: 1-1118.

Reports

Franklin, M.A. 1990. Challenge Cost-Share project report for Astragalus desereticus (Deseret Milkvetch), Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources. p. 5 pages + appendices.

The Nature Conservancy. 1992. Stewardship Abstract for Astragalus desereticus (Deseret Milk-vetch). Prepared by R. Douglas Stone. Salt Lake City, Utah: p.18.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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