Wildflower Wednesday: Astragalus utahensis aka Locoweed aka Utah Ladyfinger
This Wednesday I wanted to blog about Astragalus utahensis. It is one of many Astragalus species native to Utah. My first introduction to this plant was on the foothills of the Wasatch range. In spring their purple/magenta flowers jump out against their silver foliage. They are some of the first wildflowers to bloom in our region. Astragalus utahensis grows in rocky/sandy earth with little water. In these harsh conditions they will flourish. Here is a general information page on Weeds and Wildflowers.
Astragalus utahensis goes by several common names. Locoweed is one of them. Some Astragalus species are poisonous to cattle and can cause major problems for ranchers. For more info see this publication from NMSU. I’m not sure if this one is actually poisonous but people around here call it Locoweed.
Utah Ladyfinger is an alternative name used by folks at INPGA and Slow the Flow. They are promoting it as a lovely low water ground cover or desert rock garden addition for our landscapes. And rightly so. But you can’t sell it with weed in the name.
A few years back I was lucky enough to pick up some Locoweed seed on my shoes (I think) and then had a Utah Ladyfinger pop up in the old sand box out back. I have not been lucky enough to have it reseed (not much of a weed I guess). I haven’t seen any signs of it this spring, but we had a few good years. Here is a close up of this beauty.
Despite this being a Utah’s Choice plant, I have not seen it for sale at the local nurseries. Maybe I just haven’t noticed but I don’t think so. I am planning on building a small rock garden and would like this as a permanent part of it. I was so excited to find it for sale from Rugged Country Plants. But alas, they are temporarily sold out. I will keep checking though.
PS. Seed can be obtained from Western Native Seed, Alplains.com, and Wildflowers Unlimited. Many of Utah’s good nurseries carry packets of Wildflowers Unlimited’s native seeds, usually by the checkout counter. If you can’t find them at your favorite nursery it looks like Wildflowers Unlimited takes orders through the mail.