This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Almost glabrous, green. Stems 0, the flower and leaf-stalks springing from the roots; 10-20 pairs of elliptic leaflets, stipules linear-lanceolate. Flowers purple, in oval heads elongated at maturity. Peduncles equalling the leaves. Calyx glabrescent, tubular, with teeth about half length of tube. Pods very long, 25-35 mm. by 3 mm., sub-cylindrical, curved, almost glabrous.
This species has a wide range, both in altitude and longitude, and it is really a southern plant, as its name implies. We have seen it at Beaulieu, on the Mediterranean, at Pigna, in the Ligurian Alps (1200 feet), and as high as 6300 feet on the plateau of Mt. Cenis.
Central and Southern Europe, very local in Switzerland, Caucasus, Tunis, Algeria.
Woody at the base, and forming great mats of spiny shoots. Stem very short, whitish pubescent. Leaves with 6-10 pairs of linear-oblong leaflets. Stipules linear-acuminate. Flowers white or washed with lilac, erect, 3-8 in short, loose clusters, slightly peduncled. Bracts lanceolate. Calyx very woolly with setaceous teeth equalling the tube.
This very marked species is the only one of the spiny kinds which can be considered Alpine or sub-alpine. We have seen it, near the top of the Col di Tenda, and on the Aiguille du Goleon in Dauphine, at the remarkable height of 8500 feet or 2590 m. It prefers limestone or shale.
Western Alps (not in Switzerland), Pyrenees, Greece, Sicily, Italy.
Should be planted in a limy soil with plenty of stones, and where it can have room to spread and form a big mat.
Leaves pinnate. Flowers in axillary racemes. Style subulate, not bearded; ovules more than 2. Pod or legume more or less inflated and membranous, 1-celled.
Stem 1-2 feet high, glabrescent. Leaflets in 9-12 pairs, ovate-lanceolate, stipules linear-lanceolate. Flower-stalks blackish. Flowers brownish yellow. Calyx-teeth linear-lanceolate. Legume half-ovate, when young covered with rough hairs, nearly glabrous when older, stalk of legume nearly as long as calyx.
Stony places and pastures, 4000-6500 feet. July, August.
Eastern, Central, and Western Alps; Pyrenees, Bavaria, Sweden.
Low, tufted perennials, only differing from Astragalus in the keel, which has a small point at its extremity, either erect or slightly recurved, and in the pod, which has an incomplete longitudinal partition projecting into the cavity from the angle next the vexillum, not from the angle next the keel.
Another large genus, of about 200 species, but not so widely spread as Astragalus, and chiefly confined to mountain stations in Europe, Asia, and N. America.
Stock short and tufted, covered with old leaf-stalks and stipules. Plant covered with scattered hairs or rather shaggy. Leaflets usually in 12 pairs, lanceolate, acute. Peduncle longer than the leaves, and hairy like the calyx. Spikes capitate, ovate. Bracts nearly or quite as long as calyx. Flowers lemon-yellow, occasionally with brownish claws or white, or blue (var. ccerulea Koch). Legume erect, sessile within the calyx, ovate, acuminate, inflated, semi-bilocular, slightly hairy.
Stony places and pastures in the Alps up to 9500 feet, and descending into the plains. June to August.
Carpathians, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps; Pyrenees; Scandinavia, Britain (very rare). Found on most of the high mountains of Europe.