Synonyms: Stracheya Benth.
Common Names: Hedysarum,Liquorice Root, Western sweetvetch
Habitat:Hedysarum grows in Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America. It often grows on rocky soils of open areas, from the plains to about 2,600 metres.
Description: Hedysarum is a perennial plant, growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It has odd-pinnate leaves, with entire leaflets (no notches or indentations). These leaves resemble the leaves of sweet peas. The stipules may be free or connate, and stipels (secondary stipules) are absent.
The inflorescences are peduncled racemes or heads. Bracts are small, with bracteoles below the calyx, and calyx teeth subequal. The petals may be pink, purplish, yellow, or whitish. Vexillum is longer than the wings, with an obtuse keel longer or rarely shorter than the wings. Stamens are diadelphous, 9+1, and anthers uniform. Ovary is 2-8-ovuled. Fruit is a lomentum, with segments that are glabrous, pubescent, bristly, or spiny, and break into single-seeded sections on ripening.
Easily grown in ordinary garden soil in a sunny position, preferring a deep well-drained sandy loam. Plants strongly resent root disturbance and should be placed in their permanent positions as soon as possible[. This species is closely related to H. boreale. Does well in the rock garden or border. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.
Hedysarum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (moth and butterfly) species including Coleophora accordella. Some species, such as Hedysarum alpinum also known as Alpine sweetvetch or wild potato, were eaten by the Inuit to help ward off the effects of scurvy due to it being rich in vitamin C, containing about 21 mg/100g. Charles Darwin also called the telegraph plant a Hedysarum.
The roots are a major food for grizzly bears.It can fix Nitrogen.
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