WOOLLY LOCO
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Astragalus mollissimus   (Allred ) Bailey
Smoky Valley Ranch, Logan County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 4-16 inches
Family: Fabaceae - Bean Family
Flowering Period:   May, June
Stems: 1 to several, stout, .5 to 5.5 inches long, densely soft hairy; outer stems prostrate, inner stems ascending.
Leaves: Alternate, ascending or arching, 3 to 10 inches long, .5 to 1.5 inch wide, odd-pinnately compound; leaflets 15-33, oval, .25 to 1 inch long, densely fuzzy pubescent.
Inflorescences: Racemes, on stalks 2 to 8 inches long, oblong, 2 to 4 inches long, 10-40-flowered.
Flowers: Calyces 5-lobed; corollas papilionaceous, reddish purple to yellowish purple, fading bluish; banner prominent, .75 to 1 inch long; stamens 10, 9 united, 1 free.
Fruits: Pods, crescent-shaped, 2-celled, .5 to 1 inch long, short-beaked, usually glabrous; seeds smooth, brown.
Habitat: Prairies, pastures, hillsides, stream valleys, and roadsides, most abundant in rocky or sandy soils.
Distribution: West half of Kansas.
Toxicity: This native legume is highly poisonous to livestock. It is unpalatable, but once a small amount is consumed, the animal will seek it to the exclusion of other plants. Horses are particularly susceptible. The toxic effects are cumulative. Symptoms of woolly loco poisoning are: slow staggering gait, loss of weight, rough hair coat, disorientation, depression, and anxiety. The optic nerves are affected, causing horses to shy violently, to be difficult to back up, and to bump into obstructions - i.e. to exhibit "loco" behavior. Pastures with woolly loco should not be grazed until the plants have matured and withered away.

Woolly loco flowers and calyces
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Smoky Valley Ranch, Logan County, Kansas
Woolly loco
58 KB
Smoky Valley Ranch, Logan County, Kansas
Woolly loco pods
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Osborne County, Kansas