Astragalus canadensis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: milk vetch 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Creamy white to pale green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Wet Soil


Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining soils in full sun. Tolerant of drought and a wide range of soil types including dry soils and wet soils as long as they are well-draining. Hardy in Zones 3-8.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Astragalus canadensis, commonly called Canadian milkvetch, is a herbaceous perennial native to a variety of habitats throughout the United States and Canada including upland prairies, bluff ledges, forests, stream banks, railroad right-of-ways, roadsides, and pastures. Mature plants will reach up to 4' tall with a 2' spread. Upright to ascending, red-tinged, branched stems emerge from a woody rootstock. The 5-9" long, pinnately compound leaves have 15-31 pairs of oblong to elliptic, 0.5-2" long leaflets. Dense, terminal, spike-like racemes of creamy-white to pale green, slightly drooping, cylindrical flowers bloom in summer. The inflorescences are around 5-10" tall and the individual flowers can reach up to 0.75" long. The flowers are followed by 0.75" long and 0.25" wide, ovoid, inflated, beaked seed pods. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. It is a host plant for the western tailed-blue and clouded sulfur butterflies.

The genus name Astragalus comes from Greek meaning "ankle bone". Various sources list this as reference to the appearance of the roots, seeds, or inflorescences.

Specific epithet means of Canada, in reference to a portion of the native range of this species.


No known pest or disease issues of note. The stems of this species tend to sprawl if they do not receive support from surrounding vegetation.


Prairie plantings, native gardens, woodland edges, pollinator gardens.