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Botanical Name : Astragalus exscapus
Habitat :Astragalus exscapus is native to Central Europe – Moldavia and the Ukraine. It grows on steppe and foothills, on limestone soils.
Astragalus exscapus is a perennial herb growing to 0.3 m (1ft).
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It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil.
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Succeeds in poor soils. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small. This plant is a sub-shrub and although it produces woody stems these tend to die back almost to the base each winter. 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. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings 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.
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the plant has been used in the treatment of syphilitic sores.
A gum called morea tragacanth is obtained from the stem (see above). It has a wide range of uses including:- a thickening agent in preparing dyes for calico printing, textile dyes and for dressing fabrics, it is also a thickener in making glues, water colours, ink (where it supplies a gloss), it is a binding agent in paper making, a culture medium in laboratories etc
Known Hazards : Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.