Astragalus canadensis
Canadian milk vetch
Image of Astragalus canadensis

Photo by Kitty Kohout 

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Key Characteristics

Tall perennial forb (up to 1.5 m) of forest, savanna, and glade habitats; arising from a rhizome, leafy branching stems bear compound leaves with 15-35 small (1-4 cm) elliptic leaflets; flowers white; fruit an ovoid pod 4-7 mm thick.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1S2
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Clair12011
St. Joseph21954
Distribution map for Astragalus canadensis

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Occurs in a variety of habitats including oak barrens, open areas in rich, moist soil over limestone, moist openings, wet ground, and sandy lake shores. Numerous old records have limited habitat data. In addition to the natural communities listed below, the species may occur in lakeplain oak openings, lakeplain wet-mesic prairie, and mesic sand prairie.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

The little data that exists suggests this species may occur with white oak, red cedar, hawthorn, smooth brome, queen anne's-lace, yarrow, Canada goldenrod, mouse-ear chickweed, sweet clover, tick-trefoil, asters, and Cooper's milk-vetch.


Status of the species very poorly known in the state. Most records are very old, but even new records give little data on habitat and condition. The primary need for this species is to conduct status survey and accumulate better data on habitat and populations.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 23, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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