Biology and species description

The "Garbancillo de Tallante" (Astragalus nitidiflorus) is an herbaceous, leguminous plant, with procumbent or rising stems, and a size that ranges from 40-80 cm in diameter. It has pinnate leaves with elliptic leaflets covered with small hairs to protect it from high sun exposure and the wind.

It flowers in the springtime, for a period of 2 to 3 months, producing pale yellow flowers that have greenish yellow keels. This plant normally has a life span that is no longer than 4 to 5 years.

The plant's pollination is via insects (general entomophily) and the fruit it bears is navicular shaped. Its seed dispersal is determined by gravity.

Ecology

This plant is found in an area with a semi-arid Mediterranean climate. Without ruling out its presence in other types of habitats, at present it exclusively inhabits volcanic-type soils, with alkaline basaltic materials. It grows on traditional non-irrigated land with minimum cultivation.

Distribution

Astragalus nitidiflorus can be found exclusively in the municipality of Cartagena, specifically in the areas surrounding Tallante and Puertos de Santa Bárbara, and is one of the many endemisms that can be found in the Region of Murcia.

To date, they can be found in the following four areas:


  • Cabezo Negro de Tallante
  • Cabezo Negro de los Pérez
  • Pérez Bajos
  • Lorenzales

Part of these populated areas is found inside zones protected by Red Natura 2000, for instance LIC (Sites of Community Importance) "Cabezos del Pericón", while some of them are located close to "Cabezo Negro de Tallante", an Area of Geological interest (LIG).

Threats

The main factors that put the survival of Astragalus nitidiflorus at risk are the following .

  • A low number of specimens
  • Fragmented populations
  • A persistent genetic bank only in the short-term
  • Limited seed dispersal
  • Low genetic variability
  • Low competitiveness with other species
  • Shepherding
  • Wild fauna
  • Low rainfall