Herb: Indian Milkvetch


Latin name: Astragalus aboriginorum


Synonyms: Astragalus australis


Family: Leguminosae



Edible parts of Indian Milkvetch:

Root - cooked. Collected by the Indians in spring as an article of food. This plant is very similar to several poisonous species, so great caution is urged to ensure that the plant is identified properly.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Habitat of the herb:

Alpine and sub-alpine knolls, scree and open places in valleys and plains, especially on limestone.

Propagation of Indian Milkvetch:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing - but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 - 9 weeks or more at 13C if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Alpine and sub-alpine knolls, scree and open places in valleys and plains, especially on limestone.

Medicinal use of Indian Milkvetch:

None known

Known hazards of Astragalus aboriginorum:

Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.