Astragalus tragacantha ssp. vicentinus/Astragalus massiliensis

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Fabales - Family: Fabaceae

Astragalus tragacantha ssp vicentinus

Above: Astragalus tragacantha in flower at Cape St. Vincent in early April

Astragalus tragacantha ssp. vicentinus - is one of the rare plants to be found in Cape St. Vincent Natural Park (Parque Nacional de Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina) in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Sometimes known as Astragalus massiliensis this plant is recorded from southern France, Northern Spain and other parts of the western Mediterranean region. It is a coastal species and grows in sandy soils among scrub.

Astragalus tragacantha subsp. vicentinus

Close-up the flower and leaves of the plant reveal that it is a member of the Pea family of plants

At Cape St. Vincent this plant is found along the roadsides towards the lighthouse. It is an uncomfortable candidate for photography as it grows on stony ground among thorny shrubs and plants. It is also becoming harder to find as much of its habitat is being taken over as alternative car parking areas for visitors to this iconic part of Europe. Cape St. Vincent is Europe's most south-westerly point and attracts tourists by the coachload in the summer months.

Astragalus tragacantha flowers in March and early April. It forms low-growing pincushion-shaped plants. The flowers appear white from a distance, but on closer inspection are tinged with purple.

The photographs shown on this page were taken in the Algarve, in Portugal, in early April.

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