Oxytropis besseyi (Bessey's Locoweed) - photos and description

Oxytropis besseyi

Oxytropis besseyi

Oxytropis besseyi

Oxytropis besseyi

Oxytropis besseyi

Oxytropis besseyi

Oxytropis besseyi

Oxytropis besseyi
15 cm ruler for scale

Oxytropis besseyi


Walked by this rattlesnake when hiking to badlands to photograph O. besseyi

General: Tufted plant with silky hairy, silvery foliage, usually with several scapes growing from the caudex.

Flowers: Flowers on leafless scapes, they are bright pink, in a globose spike, we measured a spike at 4 cm long. Flowers are 2 cm long, measured from stem to tip of the petals. The keel is 1.5 cm long measured from the stem to the tip of the keel.

Leaves: Leaves are all basal, pinnate, 9 cm long, I counted 13 to 17 leaflets. The leaflets are lanceolate, 1 cm long and 4 mm wide, each pair of leaflets forming a tight V shape.

Height: Height listed in Budd's Flora to 20 cm, we measured scapes to 15 cm tall.

Habitat: Dry hillsides, in the extreme southwest of the province.

Abundance: Very rare, ranked as an S2 (as of 2019) by the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre.

Origin: Native.

Similar species: Could be mistaken for Astragalus missouriensis, both plants bloom about the same time, have grey foliage, pinnate leaves, and pinkish flowers in globose spikes. However that plant has a rounded keel in its flower, whereas Oxytropis besseyi has a pointed keel in its flower.

The globose spike of Oxytropis beseyi is quite helpful in distinguishing it from our other Oxytropis species with purple-red flowers (Taxonomic Reminder for Recognizing Saskatchewan Plants).

When and where photographed: Photographs taken May 21st and June 19th, dry, clay hillsides of the Frenchman River Valley, West Block of the Grasslands Park, about 400 km SW of our home in Regina, SK.