Cicer Milkvetch


Cicer Milkvetch

  • Long-lived, perennial, non-bloat legume
  • Vigorous creeping roots
  • Abundant foliage and showy flowers
  • Ideal vegetative cover for areas around summer homes and campgrounds
  • Comparable to alfalfa yields in areas with longer growing seasons

Quantity is per pound. Example: 1 = 1 lb, 2 = 2 lbs, 3 = 3lbs, etc. This is pure seed, not a live plant.

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Cider Milkvetch Seed & Plant Description

Cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer) is a long-lived, perennial, non-bloat legume. It has vigorous creeping roots or rhizomes. Cicer milkvetch is native to moist places along streams and ditches of Europe from Finland and Sweden to Spain and east to Russia. The species is now established in pinyon-juniper, sagebrush, mountain shrub and aspen communities in the western United States. As a beautification species its abundant foliage and showy flowers makes cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer) an ideal vegetative cover for areas around summer homes and campgrounds.

Cicer milkvetch has a very wide range of adaptation but is best adapted to the Rocky Mountain region. Trials including cicer milkvetch have shown that the species has good to excellent performance on coastal areas and also in the Central Plains west to the Cascade-Sierra ranges.

Cicer milkvetch will grow in soils of all textures from clays to sands, but best performance comes from plants grown on moderately coarse textured soils. It is adapted to slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils with pH levels of 6.0 to 8.1. The species is moderately salt tolerant. It does well on poor, disturbed soils making it useful for critical area plantings.

Cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer) is successful in grass mixtures on streambanks, road cuts, mine spoils, and as a cover crop in orchards and windbreaks. Its extensive and prolific root system holds soil, and provides quick recovery and rapid growth in critical area plantings. Its nitrogen fixing ability also provides nitrogen to other species planted in reclamation mixtures. It is considered one of the better legumes used in revegetating strip mines at high elevations. It is better suited for wildlife than alfalfa due to its non-bloat nature.

Cider Milkvetch as Forage and Cover Crop

Cicer has many qualities that make it a viable choice as a non-bloat legume for hay or pasture. Yields of cicer milkvetch are generally comparable to those of alfalfa in areas with longer growing seasons. Moisture content is 4 to 8% higher than that of alfalfa or sainfoin, and protein levels of 15 to 30% equal or exceed other legumes. The high protein content of cicer milkvetch is due, in part, to the high leaf to stem ratio (approximately 40% greater than alfalfa) and its ability to retain leaves during drying and baling. It has not reported that Cicer Milkvetch causes bloating. Cicer milkvetch is not as palatable to grazing heifers as alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil or sainfoin. It is also less acceptable to sheep than alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil and red clover.

Stands of cicer resist overgrazing because of its vigorous sod forming rhizomes. Recovery from grazing is rapid but recovery after cutting for hay is slow. Close grazing stimulates growth and results in increased stand density.

A study in Laramie, Wyoming showed more pounds of beef was produced on Lutana cicer milkvetch compared to Eski sainfoin. Cicer milkvetch pasture improved each year over the four years of the study. Beef yield increases corresponded with the increase in forage.

Cider Milkvetch for Wildlife

Deer, elk and antelope have been documented eating cicer milkvetch year round, although it is less attractive than alfalfa and sainfoin. Small birds, deer, rabbit, sage grouse and pheasants will eat the seeds. Nutritional values for cicer milkvetch compare to other forage legumes such as alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil and sainfoin. Cicer milkvetch has higher leaf to stem ratio which equates to higher invitro dry matter digestibility. It retains leaves longer in season than alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil or sainfoin.

This plant is primarily pollinated by bumble bees but may also be visited by other bee species including the European honey bees and leaf cutter bees. All classes of livestock will eat cicer as hay or pasture. Antelope, deer and elk will also eat nicer milk vetch. Plants contain no harmful alkaloids, nor do they accumulate toxic amounts of selenium.

Quick Plant Facts
Common Name:

Cicer Milkvetch

Scientific Name:


Native or Introduced:

Plant Type:

pH Tolerance:

Seed Count

145,000 seeds/lb.

Growth Height:

Min. Precipitation

12-18 Inches

Max Sowing Depth:

Sowing Rate

20-25 PLS lbs. per Acre

Growth Season:

Sun & Shade Tolerance:

Full Sun

Available Varieties:

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Zone Map


Hardiness Zones

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