Astragalus crassicarpus

Ground Plum



Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

Astragalus crassicarpus, also known as groundplum milkvetch or buffalo plum, provides beauty and interesting texture and form in every part of the plant and stage of development. A low-growing, spreading legume, it prefers full sun and well-drained soils.  It can be used in "bee lawns", as a ground cover, and in rock gardens due to its short height and preference for dry soils. It has pinnate leaves and, in spring, clusters of pea-like blossoms with hues of lavender, purple and white. The thick-walled seed pods typically rest on the ground and do indeed look like plums (see photos). In addition to being a favorite of bees, Astragalus species are one of the host plants of the Clouded Sulphur butterfly. 

Young Astragalus crassicarpus pods, boiled or raw, are said to have the texture and flavor of garden peas; however, some Astragalus species are toxic so consumption without positive identification is inadvisable.

Species of genus Astragalus are legumes. Most legume species harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia on their roots. Genus-specific strains of this bacterium called inoculum can aid in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen and improve long-term health of native plant communities. Inoculum is naturally-occurring in most soils and additional amendment is usually not needed. However, in low fertility soils it may be necessary. Genus-specific strains are available at

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots April/May October 1 Year

Astragalus crassicarpus - Ground Plum

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

4 Questions asked on Astragalus crassicarpus

Is this species that you have for sale, Astragalus crassicarpus (Ground Plum) a species that is edible? I am aware that there is poisonous species that do exist.
Hi Richard. Yes, there are many reports that the Dakota and Lakota tribes ate the immature fruit raw or cooked. Although we have had fruiting plants here, we have never tried the fruit. Note: only the fruit is reported to be edible; the rest of the plant is poisonous.
Is this species a perennial?
Yes, Astragalus crassicarpus (Ground Plum) is a perennial.
Does anybody know if these will do well in a container, and will they overwinter? I'm thinking of a large container (7-8 gallon). I'm in zone 6b (near Boston, MA). Thank you!
Hi Gabriel. It’s a fun question that I don’t have a definite answer for. If you are an experienced container gardener I don’t see why it wouldn't work as long as the taproot can extend itself without excessive cramping and winding around. Sometimes big rooted perennial plants can push up exposing some of the root to freezing if they get too big underground with no where to go. If the roots should get pot-bound, gently unwind a bit if transplanting or possibly root prune if keeping from year to year. Winter protection for the container would be good.

I would move up to a larger size pot as the plants grow because this is a species that would not do well with a bunch of wet soil around it. It would prefer to dry rather quickly. It’d be fun to have ground plum pods dangling over the side. Good Luck!

Is Ground plum invasive!
Hi Ann, Nope! Ground Plum is not considered an invasive plant (see RANGE MAP tab for historical native range). In our experience, it’s not even aggressive and can be difficult to establish unless you have the right conditions. We often only have a very small seed harvest each year.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Medium-Dry, Dry
12 inches
Bloom Time
May, June
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code