Description from Flora of China
Spiesia Necker ex Kuntze.
Perennial herbs or cushionlike shrublets, caulescent or acaulescent, with glandular trichomes, glands, or scalelike or slender basifixed trichomes. Stipules conspicuous, membranous, papery, leathery, scarious, herbaceous, or leaflike, usually persistent, free or adnate to petiole, distinct or connate. Leaves usually imparipinnate, rarely appearing paripinnate by apical leaflet reduced to a spine (Oxytropis aciphylla, O. hystrix, and O. tragacanthoides), rarely 1-foliolate (O. monophylla and O. neimonggolica); leaflets alternate, opposite, subopposite, verticillate, or subverticillate; leaflet blades various in shape, base ± oblique. Inflorescences racemes, spicate or capitate, dense or lax, with 1 to many flowers; bracts usually triangular or lanceolate-triangular. Bracteoles absent or sometimes narrowly triangular. Calyx campanulate, tubular-campanulate, or tubular, with 5 subequal lobes. Corolla various in color, petals clawed; standard various in shape, apex rounded, emarginate, or 2-lobed; wings variously shaped, apex rounded or emarginate; keel variously shaped, apex beaked with vascular bundles reaching beak apex. Stamens diadelphous with 9 connate filaments and 1 ± distinct filament. Ovary sessile or stipitate, glabrous or pubescent. Legume sessile or stipitate, membranous or leathery, enveloped by calyx or exserted from calyx, usually 1-locular or ± 2-locular, septum absent, narrow, or wide.
The genus Oxytropis resembles Astragalus but is distinguished from the latter in having several species with glandular trichomes, several species with verticillate leaflets (although these are present in A. alatavicus and A. pamirensis; see pp. 402-403), leaflets basally oblique, and vascular bundles reaching the apex of the corolla keel beak.
The following taxa were reported in FRPS (42(2): 1-145. 1998) but are not treated here. The authors have not seen any Chinese material of these taxa, and in most cases their reported occurrence in China is based on misidentifications in literature covering plants occurring outside of China (except for Oxytropis falcata var. maquensis which is based on a type from S Gansu): O. altaica (Pallas) Persoon, O. ambigua (Pallas) Candolle, O. ampullata (Pallas) Persoon, O. biloba Saposhnikow, O. bogdoshanica Jurtzev, O. caespitosula Gontscharow, O. cana Bunge, O. chantengriensis Vassilczenko, O. chionophylla Schrenk, O. chorgossica Vassilczenko, O. confusa Bunge, O. cuspidata Bunge, O. falcata Bunge var. maquensis C. W. Chang, O. fetisowii Bunge, O. floribunda (Pallas) Candolle, O. gorbunovii Borissova, O. ketmenica Saposhnikow, O. kyzitalensis Vassilczenko, O. lanuginosa Komarov, O. longibracteata Karelin & Kirilov, O. macrobotrys Bunge, O. martjanovii Krylov, O. microsphaera Bunge, O. pellita Bunge, O. platonychia Bunge, O. rhynchophysa Schrenk, O. sarkandensis Vassilczenko, O. saurica Saposhnikow, O. schrenkii Trautvetter, O. semenowii Bunge, O. sulphurea (Fischer) Ledebour, O. thomsonii Bentham ex Bunge.
The following taxa are based on Chinese types but are not treated here because additional study is needed to determine if any of these should be recognized or whether they belong to existing taxa: Oxytropis barkultagi Grubov & Vassilczenko, O. burchan-buddae Grubov & Vassilczenko, O. candolleorum Vassilczenko, O. dehra-duni Vassilczenko, O. dschagastaica Grubov & Vassilczenko, O. dumbedanica Grubov & Vassilczenko, O. kumbelica Grubov & Vassilczenko, O. larionovii Grubov & Vassilczenko, O. lutchensis Franchet.
There are additional taxa reported as occurring in China in various publications, but most if not all of these reports are based on misidentifications of Chinese plants in treatments that cover areas outside of China.
About 310 species: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America; 133 species (74 endemic) in three subgenera and 20 sections (five endemic) in China.
(Authors: Zhu Xiangyun (朱相云); Stanley L. Welsh, Hiroyoshi Ohashi)