Fassett's Locoweed

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Fassett's Locoweed

Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea

Status Threatened
Listed September 28, 1988
Family Leguminosae (Fabaceae)
Description Herbaceous perennial, covered with silvery-gray hairs; pinnately compound leaves, rose-purple flowers.
Habitat Lake shorelines of sand or pebbles.
Threats Shorefront development, livestock grazing.
Range Wisconsin


Fassett's locoweed, Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea, is an herbaceous perennial. Pinnately compound leaves, from 2-8 in (5-20 cm) long, are clustered into a rosette around the base of the plant. Each leaf consists of about 15 pairs of narrow, pointed leaflets. Leaves and stems are covered with silky white hairs, lending a silvery-gray cast to the plant. Attractive rose-purple flowers appear from mid-May through mid-June. Seed pods develop from each flower in summer.


Fassett's locoweed prefers partial shade along sand and gravelly lake shorelines. When encroaching shrubs and trees block the sun for most of the day, it dies out. It can also be crowded out by grasses. Sparse vegetation is typically maintained along the shoreline by the scouring action of waves or by fluctuating water levels.


Fassett's locoweed appears to be endemic to central Wisconsin and was known from several lakeshore sites where it no longer occurs. Recreation along the shoreline eliminated several historic populations in Bayfield and Waushara counties, and grazing domestic livestock appears to have extirpated the plant from several other locations.

This locoweed is currently known from six sites in Portage and Waushara counties in central Wisconsin. The population totaled less than 5,000 individual plants in 1988. All populations were on privately owned land, consisting of residential lake-front lots, and a summer camp. Surviving plants occur only in areas that are not used intensively for recreation, although mild to moderate disturbance seems compatible with the plant's survival.


Because of its localized distribution and low numbers, Fassett's locoweed is extremely vulnerable to further shoreline development, whether to provide for higher density housing or for greater numbers of recreational visitors.

Conservation and Recovery

The species is listed as Threatened by the state of Wisconsin, but state law cannot protect privately owned sites. The addition of Fassett's locoweed to the federal list, allows the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to more aggressively pursue habitat acquisition or to negotiate conservation agreements with private landowners to protect population sites.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
Federal Building
Ft. Snelling
Twin Cities, Minnesota 55111


Barneby, R. C. 1952. "A Revision of the North American Species of Oxytropis DC." Proceedings of the California Academy of Science 17:177-312.

Fassett, N. C. 1936. "Notes from the Herbarium of the University of Wisconsin #13." Rhodora 38:95.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1988. "Determination of Threatened Status for Oxytropis campestris var. chartaceae. " Federal Register 53(188):37970-37972.

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Fassett's Locoweed

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