Species Profile

Hare-footed Locoweed

Scientific Name: Oxytropis lagopus
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Alberta
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2014
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 3, Special Concern - (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)

Go to advanced search

Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Hare-footed Locoweed

Hare-footed Locoweed Photo 1



Hare-footed Locoweed (Oxytropis lagopus var. conjugans) is a member of the Fabaceae (pea family). It is a perennial forb, having a stout taproot crowned by leaves and large, purple, attractive flowers. Despite its attractiveness it has little interest for the horticultural trade. Plants can be poisonous to livestock, especially horses. Parts of the plant have medicinal properties and they were used by First Nation peoples to treat several ailments. (Updated 2017/07/28)


Distribution and Population

There are three varieties of Oxytropis lagopus: atropurpurea, conjugans and lagopus. Variety conjugans is restricted to the prairies in southern Alberta and western Montana. The other two varieties occur in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, USA. In Canada, Hare-footed Locoweed is known from 11 subpopulations in an area of approximately 229 km2 on the uplands of the Milk River Ridge and Del Bonita Plateau in southern Alberta. The number of subpopulations in Montana is unknown. The nearest US subpopulation is approximately 48 km south of the Canadian-USA in Glacier County, Montana. (Updated 2017/07/28)



In Canada, Hare-footed Locoweed grows within the Foothills Fescue and Mixedgrass Subregions south of Lethbridge. Plants grow on thin gravelly soils in open grassland at elevations between 1,189 and 1,995 m (3,900 to 6,545 feet) in Alberta. Native rough fescue grassland communities, in which it occurs, are themselves becoming rarer and are considered a high priority for conservation efforts. A notable characteristic of the habitat descriptions is the almost continuous cover of microbiotic crust (primarily lichens) and Dense Spikemoss. There is also indication that a calcium carbonate (limestone) component to substrate materials may be important. (Updated 2017/07/28)



Hare-footed Locoweed blooms in late April to early June. The flowers are insect-pollinated. The plants take advantage of spring moisture and pods mature early in the year. Seed predation by insects may be heavy in some years and annual seed production is likely to fluctuate between years and localities. Seed is dispersed primarily by gravity. Wind and rodents may also contribute to seed dispersal. The longevity of the seed in the soil and the state of the seed bank is unknown. (Updated 2017/07/28)



Gravel extraction, energy (oil and gas) development, cultivation, off-road vehicles, road building and intensive livestock grazing have, and potentially may, contribute to habitat loss and modification. Recent observations have also concluded that the invasive species Crested Wheat Grass is adversely influencing the numbers of plants in at least five occurrences. These plants are likely direct competitors for nutrients, water and light and may contribute to habitat modification. (Updated 2017/07/28)



Federal Protection

Species that have been designated at risk by COSEWIC since the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was written must be added to Schedule 1 through a regulatory amendment. Information on this procedure is available in the Assessment section. If Hare-footed Locoweed is added to Schedule 1, it will benefit from the protections afforded by SARA. More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Hare-footed Locoweed Oxytropis lagopus in Canada (2014)

    Hare-footed Locoweed (Oxytropis lagopus var. conjugans) is a member of the Fabaceae (pea family). It is a perennial forb, having a stout taproot crowned by leaves and large, purple, attractive flowers. Despite its attractiveness it has little interest for the horticultural trade. Plants can be poisonous to livestock, especially horses. Parts of the plant have medicinal properties and they were used by First Nation peoples to treat several ailments.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Hare-footed Locoweed (2015)

    This member of the pea family occurs in highly restricted habitat within a small area of rough fescue prairie on gravelly soils in southern Alberta and western Montana. Alberta occurrences represent a large portion of the world population. The plants face numerous threats including competition with invasive alien plant species, mining and quarrying, cultivation, oil and gas drilling, road development, and intensive livestock grazing, all of which have not been mitigated and are contributing to continuing habitat loss and degradation.


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2017)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances). Given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2013-2014 (2014)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 0 Endangered: 23 Threatened: 12 Special Concern: 20 Data Deficient: 0 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act : Terrestrial Species - January 2015 (2015)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website