The arched, reddish stems of astragalus lentiginosus
can rise upwards or stay close to the ground, forming large clumps. The pea-like flowers may be colored pink, purple, pale blue or white, growing in small clusters at the end of short, thick stalks. The common name freckled milkvetch refers to the lightly hairy seed pods, which have a mottled, red/cream coloration, a groove down one side, and a sharply pointed tip. Stems and leaves may be hairy or hairless, but in general this species is less hairy than most other members of this large genus. Stems are usually red in color, and the leaf edges are also often reddish.
The plant is extremely changeable, in aspects of the leaves, flowers and seeds, and almost 40 varieties are recognized, probably the most of any US plant species; this is in part to to the wide geographical range, stretching from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains, and south to Mexico.