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Astragalus membranaceus

latin name > Astragalus membranaceus
Astragalus membranaceus photo

Latin Name: Astragalus membranaceus

Synonyms: Astragalus mongholicus

Common Name: Astragalus, Milk Vetch, Locoweed

Chinese Name: Huang Qi, Pak Kei

Family: Fabaceae

Energy: Slightly warm, Moist

Taste: Sweet

Parts Used: Rhizomes

Habitat: "King of tonic herbs,", it is native to Northeast Asia.

Type: Hardy herbaceous perennial.

Size: 2-4' tall and 1-2' wide.

Spacing for Production: 12"

Site and Zone: Full-sun, Z5, Z6, Z7, Z8.

Soil: Prefers deep-soil, poor-soil, dry-soil, well-drained-soil, sandy-soil to grow good medicinal roots. Maybe slightly alkaline-soil is better. Hates-clay-soil.

Will it Grow in Texas?: Yes.

Propagation: Direct seed in late winter. Or cold-stratify seeds for 3 weeks then lightly scarify seeds with sandpaper and soak overnight before planting in the greenhouse in late winter. Use a rhizobium inoculant. Germinates better in cold soils, usually within a week. The plant has a long taproot so does not like its roots disturbed, especially in the first year. Protect the plants with heavy mulch the first winter.

Bugs & Problems: Moles and groundhogs will eat the roots. This plant accumulates selenium, so high selenium soils (New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, parts of California, or industrially contaminated soil) will produce plants that can be selenium toxic. Astragalus is known as Locoweed in the Southwest because horses that eat it can go crazy due to the selenium toxicity.

Bloom time: Mid summer to late fall.

Collection: Collect four to five year old roots in the fall. The roots are generally sliced before they are completely dry.

Websites for photos and more info:
Steven Foster Monograph

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