Astragalus L.

(excl. Biserrula)

Literature: Chater (1968), Chamberlain & Matthews (1970), Liston & Wheeler (1994), Podlech (1994), Sanderson & Wojciechowski (1996), Podlech & Lambinon (2001), Kazempour Osaloo & al. (2005), Wojciechowski (2005), Mabberley (2008). An extensive bibliography is available here:

Astragalus is a very large and complex genus of probably 2500 species, mainly distributed in the northern hemisphere (predominantly in steppe-like habitats). Only one species, Astragalus glycyphyllos L., is native in Belgium.

The generic limits of Astragalus are currently in revision. Biserrula, often included in Astragalus (see Podlech 1994) and formerly recorded as an ephemeral alien in Belgium, appears to be distinct (Mabberley 2008).

The Belgian representatives of the genus Astragalus were recently revised by D. Podlech (Podlech & Lambinon 2001).

1. Annual, without sterile shoots. Corolla 5-8 mm long, pink or yellowish === 2

1. Perennial, with sterile shoots. Corolla 11-16 mm long, yellowish === 3

2. Hairs on stem and leaves predominantly medifixed (with one branch much longer than the other). Corolla yellow. Pod 20-50 x 2-3 mm. Leaflets 9-11 pairs === 2. Astragalus hamosus

2. Hairs on stem and leaves predominantly simple. Corolla pink. Pod 10-15 x 3 mm. Leaflets 5-8 pairs === 3. A. oxyglottis

3. Leaflets (8-) 10-15 pairs. Pod ovoid-globose, 10-15 mm long, inflated === 1. A. cicer

3. Leaflets (3-) 4-6(-7) pairs. Pod linear-oblong, 30-40 mm long, not inflated (native) === A. glycyphyllos

Additional aliens: Astragalus boeticus L. (Medit., wool alien), A. cymbicarpos Brot. (syn.: A. cymbiformis Willd.) W-Medit., wool alien), A. onobrychis L. (Euras., wool alien) and A. stella L. (W-Medit., Macaronesia, wool alien). Astragalus pelecinus (L.) Barneby is currently accommodated in a separate genus (as Biserrula pelecinus L.).



Chamberlain D.F. & Matthews V.A. (1970) Astragalus. In: Davis P.H. (ed.), Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands, vol. 3. University Press, Edinburgh: 49-254.

Chater A.O. (1968) Astragalus. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds.), Flora Europaea, vol. 2. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 108-124.

Kazempour Osaloo S., Maassoumi A.A. & Murakami N. (2005) Molecular systematics of Old World Astragalus (Fabaceae) as inferred from nrDNA ITS sequence data. Brittonia 57(4): 367-381.

Liston A. & Wheeler J.A. (1994) The phylogenetic position of the genus Astragalus (fabaceae): Evidence from the chloroplast genes rpoC1 and rpoC2. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 22(4): 377-388.

Mabberley D.J. (2008) Mabberley’s plant-book (3th ed.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: XVIII + 1021 p.

Podlech D. (1994) Revision des altweltlichen anuellen Arten der Gattung Astragalus L. (Leguminosae). Sendtnera 2: 39-170.

Podlech D. & Lambinon J. (2001) Cinq Astragalus (Fabaceae) jadis adventices en Belgique. Dumortiera 77: 11-13.

Sanderson M.J. & Wojciechowski M.F. (1996) Diversification rates in a temperate legume clade: are there "so many species" of Astragalus (Fabaceae)? Amer. J. Bot. 83(11): 1488-1502. [available online at:]

Taeb F., Ekici M. & Podlech D. (2012) Taxonomic Revision of Annual Species of Astragalus (Fabaceae) in Turkey. Feddes Repert. 123(1): 1-26.

Wojciechowski F. (2005) Astragalus (Fabaceae): A molecular phylogenetic perspective. Brittonia 57(4): 382-396.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith