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Plants & Animals

Highlights - Plant Materials Program

Silverleaf Indian Breadroot (Pediomelum argophyllum)

Scientific Name: Pediomelum argophyllum (Pursh.) J. Grimes; formerly Psoralea argophylla.
Family Name: Pea (Fabaceae).
Common Name: silverleaf Indian breadroot, silverleaf scurfpea.

Morphological Characteristics:
Habit - native perennial legume, stems erect and bushy from creeping rootstocks, spreads to form colonies, branches with whitish pubescence, 25 to 50 cm (1 to 2 ft.) tall; entire plant disarticulates at maturity and blows away in wind.
Leaves – alternate, silvery green, 3 to 5 leaflets palmately compound, each 10 to 35 mm (0.4 to 1.4 in) long, oval to oblong with brown glandular dots, densely white silky on both sides.
Flowers – clusters of 2 or 4, spike rather short, calyx tube bell-like and white silky with 5 teeth, petals (corolla) 7 to 10 mm (0.3 to 0.4 in.) long, light to deep blue.
Pea Pods – pods mostly stay closed at maturity, 7 to 9 mm (0.3 in) long, egg-shaped and hairy.
Fruit – seed dark brown to black, 1 per pod, 4 to 5 mm (0.15 to 0.2 in.) long.

Blooming: Flowers in June and July and seed matures August to September.

Distribution & Habitat: Frequently abundant on hillsides and steep slopes or well drained flats, commonly associated with little bluestem and western wheatgrass communities; Found in central and eastern Montana, and in Johnson and Sheridan counties and the eastern portion of Wyoming.

Pediomelum argophyllum plant in bloom. Pediomelum argophyllum leaf and flower arrangement.