Astragalus

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Astragalus
Borrego Milkvetch up close.jpg
A. lentiginosus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Galegeae
Subtribe: Astragalinae
Genus: Astragalus
L.
Type species
Astragalus onobrychis[disputed ]
L.
Species

Over 3,000 species, see List of Astragalus species

Synonyms[1]
  • Acanthophaca Nevski
  • Acanthyllis Pomel
  • Ailuroschia Steven
  • Alopecias Steven
  • Ammodytes Steven
  • Anaphragma Steven
  • Ankylobus Steven
  • Astenolobium Nevski
  • Astracantha Podlech
  • Astragalina Bubani
  • Astragaloides Adans.
  • Atelophragma Rydb.
  • Aulosema Walp.
  • Barnebyella Podlech
  • Batidophaca Rydb.
  • Brachyphragma Rydb.
  • Caryolobium Steven
  • Chondrocarpus Steven
  • Cnemidophacos Rydb.
  • Contortuplicata Medik.
  • Craccina Steven
  • Cryptorrhynchus Nevski
  • Ctenophyllum Rydb.
  • Cymbicarpos Steven
  • Cystium Steven
  • Cystopora Lunell
  • Didymopelta Regel & Schmalh.
  • Diholcos Rydb.
  • Dipelta Regel & Schmalh.
  • Diplotheca Hochst.
  • Euilus Steven
  • Euprepia Steven
  • Feidanthus Steven
  • Geoprumnon Rydb.
  • Glandula Medik.
  • Glaux Hill
  • Glottis Medik.
  • Glycyphylla Steven
  • Gynophoraria Rydb.
  • Halicacabus (Bunge) Nevski
  • Hamaria Fourr.
  • Hamosa Medik.
  • Hedyphylla Steven
  • Hesperastragalus A.Heller
  • Hesperonix Rydb.
  • Hippomanica Molina
  • Holcophacos Rydb.
  • Homalobus Nutt.
  • Hypoglottis Fourr.
  • Jonesiella Rydb.
  • Kentrophyta Nutt.
  • Kirchnera Opiz
  • Lithoon Nevski
  • Lonchophaca Rydb.
  • Macrosema Steven
  • Medyphylla Opiz
  • Microphacos Rydb.
  • Myctirophora Nevski
  • Myobroma Steven
  • Neodielsia Harms
  • Oedicephalus Nevski
  • Onix Medik.
  • Onyx Medik.
  • Ophiocarpus (Bunge) Ikonn.
  • Orophaca Britton[Note 1]
  • Oxyglottis (Bunge) Nevski
  • Pedina Steven
  • Phaca L.
  • Phacomene Rydb.
  • Phacopsis Rydb.
  • Philammos Steven
  • Physondra Raf.
  • Picraena Steven
  • Pisophaca Rydb.
  • Podlechiella Maassoumi & Kaz.Osaloo[Note 1]
  • Podochrea Fourr.
  • Poecilocarpus Nevski
  • Proselias Steven
  • Psychridium Steven
  • Pterophacos Rydb.
  • Rydbergiella Fedde & Syd. ex Rydb.
  • Saccocalyx Steven
  • Sewerzowia Regel & Schmalh.
  • Solenotus Steven
  • Stella Medik.
  • Tium Medik.
  • Tragacantha Mill.
  • Triquetra Medik.
  • Xerophysa Steven
  • Xylophacos Rydb.
Fruits and seeds of Astragalus hamosus

Astragalus is a large genus of over 3,000 species[2] of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae and the subfamily Faboideae. It is the largest genus of plants in terms of described species.[3] The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed (in North America, some species)[4] and goat's-thorn (A. gummifer, A. tragacantha). Some pale-flowered vetches (Vicia spp.) are similar in appearance, but they are more vine-like than Astragalus.

Description[edit]

Milkvetch species include herbs and shrubs with pinnately compound leaves. There are annual and perennial species. The flowers are formed in clusters in a raceme, each flower typical of the legume family, with three types of petals: banner, wings, and keel. The calyx is tubular or bell-shaped.[5][6]

Ecology[edit]

Astragalus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including many case-bearing moths of the genus Coleophora: C. cartilaginella, C. colutella, C. euryaula, and C. onobrychiella feed exclusively on Astragalus, C. astragalella and C. gallipennella feed exclusively on the species Astragalus glycyphyllos, and C. hippodromica is limited to Astragalus gombo.

Taxonomy[edit]

The genus was formally described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum.[7]

The name Astragalus is Greek, an old name for this group of plants which were believed to have a positive effect on goat milk production.[8]

Selected species[edit]

Uses[edit]

Traditional medicine[edit]

Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine over centuries to treat various disorders, but there is no high-quality evidence it is effective or safe for any medical purpose.[10][11]

Phytochemicals and supplements[edit]

Extracts of astragalus root include diverse phytochemicals, such as saponins and isoflavone flavonoids, which are purported in traditional practices to increase lactation in nursing mothers.[12] There is no valid clinical evidence to indicate such use is effective or safe for the mother or infant.[12] Dietary supplement products containing astragalus extracts may not have been adequately tested for efficacy, safety, purity or consistency.[12] The root extracts of astragalus may be used in soups, teas or sold in capsules.[10]

Side effects and toxicology[edit]

Although astragalus supplements are generally well tolerated, mild gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and allergic reactions may occur.[10][12] Because astragalus may affect regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure, it may be risky for people with blood disorders, diabetes, or hypertension to use it as a supplement.[10] Astragalus may interact with prescribed drugs that suppress the immune system, such as medications used by people being treated for cancer or recovery from organ transplants.[10]

Some astragalus species can be toxic, such as those found in the United States containing the neurotoxin, swainsonine, which causes "locoweed" poisoning in animals.[10] Some astragalus species may contain high levels of selenium, possibly causing toxicity.[10]

Ornamental use[edit]

Several species, including A. alpinus (bluish-purple flowers), A. hypoglottis (purple flowers), and A. lotoides, are grown as ornamental plants in gardens.[citation needed]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b This may actually be a valid genus.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Astragalus L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Astragalus L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  3. ^ Frodin, David G. (2004). "History and Concepts of Big Plant Genera". Taxon. 53 (3): 753–76. doi:10.2307/4135449. JSTOR 4135449.
  4. ^ "Astragalus (Locoweed) flowers". Rootcellar.us. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
  5. ^ Xu, Langran; Podlech, Dietrich. "Astragalus". Flora of China. 10. Retrieved 9 December 2018 – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  6. ^ "A Guide to the Common Locoweeds and Milkvetches of New Mexico". aces.nmsu.edu. New Mexico State University. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Astragalus L." ipni.org. International Plant Names Index. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  8. ^ Wilhelm, Gerould; Rericha, Laura (2017). Flora of the Chicago Region: A Floristic and Ecological Synthesis. Indiana Academy of Sciences.
  9. ^ USDA, Agricultural Research Service, National Plant Germplasm System. 2018. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN-Taxonomy). National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland Accessed 17 September 2018
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Astragalus". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US National Institutes of Health. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  11. ^ Su, Guobin; Chen, Xiankun; Liu, Zhuangzhu; Yang, Lihong; Zhang, La; Stålsby Lundborg, Cecilia; Wen, Zehuai; Guo, Xinfeng; Qin, Xindong; Liang, Jueyao; Liu, Xusheng (1 December 2016). "Oral (Huang qi) for preventing frequent episodes of acute respiratory tract infection in children". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 12: CD011958. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011958.pub2. PMC 6463872. PMID 27905672.
  12. ^ a b c d "Astragalus". Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed), National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health. 3 December 2018. PMID 30000951.

External links[edit]