(Astragalus canadensis). Perennial. Zones 2 - 5. Also known as Canadian Milkvetch. The genus Astragalus (an old Greek name of some leguminous plant, also of the ankle-bone) contains some 1500 species, chiefly of the north temperate and arctic zones.
Canadensis means "Canadian" in botanical Latin. Plants are perennial from rhizomes, so clumps of multiple stems are normally seen. Two to five dozen greenish-white to pale yellow flowers occur in dense cylindric clusters (racemes) up to 8 inches long. Each flower is about five eighths inch long. Leaves are green, up to 12 inches long, and bear up to 35 inch-long leaflets arranged pinnately. At maturity the cylindrical brown pods (legumes) are about one half inch long. Clusters of legumes remain upright all winter. This species of Astragalus root is analgesic and antihaemorrhagic. It can be chewed or used as a tea to treat chest and back pains, coughs and the spitting up of blood.
Propagation: Seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame directly in prepared garden location or a cold frame. A period of cold stratification will help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, as well as fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 48 hours in warm water before sowing. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 - 9 weeks or more at 13° c. If growing in a cold frame, as soon as seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Fairly easy to grow from seed.