Buffalo Plum
Buffalo Plum
Buffalo Plum

Buffalo Plum

Regular price $4.00 Sale

Astragalus crassicarpus

Origin: Colorado

Improvement status: Wild

Seeds per packet: ~17


Life cycle: Perennial

Buffalo plum (or ground plum, or groundplum milkvetch) is the common name for Astragalus crassicarpus. A relative of the famous Chinese medicinal herb Astragalus propinquus (formerly A. membranaceus), buffalo plum also has a long history of medicinal use, but it is most widely used as a food. It is a wild plant that has long been foraged by native peoples in its native range of western North America. Dakota people, who are said to have mainly eaten it raw, call the plant "pte ta wote", which means "buffalo food," while Lakota people reportedly used it as medicine for horses. Pawnee people are said to have eaten it to help quench thirst.

The plant is a legume, with vetch-like leaves and pretty purplish-pink flowers, but the pod is quite different from most legume pods: it's round and really looks like a plum! (Though some might more accurately say a large gooseberry.) The taste is similar to a sweet pea, sometimes with some sourness, and when cooked it tastes like green beans. The pod is the only part of the plant that's edible, and there are lookalikes out there that are poisonous, so we recommend growing it yourself unless you are completely certain of an identification out in the field. Seeds for this plant are hard to find, so we're very excited to be offering it.

Our seeds came from Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona, Minnesota.

NOTE: Photo of live plant is from Wikimedia Commons user b_holden, anonymous ebirder, and it is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Nate took the photo of a dried seed pod. The flower photo is from our friend Laura Parker of High Desert Seed + Gardens.