Crescent Milkvetch Astragalus amphioxys
There are many types of Astragalus that we get to see in the Moab area. The Crescent Milkvetch is one of the more common ones. I always look for the purple flowers to signify the early stages of oncoming Spring. Astragalus is in the Pea family (Fabaceae) and gets its name from its crescent shaped seedpod.
Plants in the Pea family are legumes, which makes the Milkvetch an important plant in the desert landscape. Legumes play an important role in plant communities and also when farming and planning crop rotation. Legumes are nitrogen fixers. They take the gas nitrogen in the atmosphere and convert it to usable nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is essential for plants to grow, therefore nitrogen fixers are an essential part of plant communities.
These guys can bloom as early as February, and go till June. They are found in sandy soils in desert scrub, blackbrush, and Pinyon Juniper. This little guy was found at the Bar M trails on Lazy. Great Moab flowers back there.