Astragalus ceramicus variety ceramicus has about five-to-fifteen narrow leaflets, a gray-green cast, and is most easily recognized by its size (typically only a few inches tall -- but in some populations up to ten inches tall) and by its characteristic habit of spreading over many square feet. It does the latter because it sends out an extensive underground system of roots which then sprout new plants.
Leaves and stems of Astragalus ceramicus variety ceramicus are clothed in white malpighian hairs (also called "dolabriform" hairs), i.e., hairs which lie relatively flat against the plant surface but which are not attached at either end of the hair. Instead they are attached to the plant surface somewhere along the length of the hair (often toward the middle) by a very minute projection of the hair. The attachment near their center and the tapered points at both ends of the hair give the hairs the shape of a pick-axe head or the slightly upturned wings of a bird. While looking through a ten power hand lens at a plant part with malpighian hairs, push a pin against one end of a hair; both ends of the hairs will rotate in a circle because the hair swivels around its short, stubby attachment point. If you push against the end of a basifixed hair, only that end will rotate. The malpighian hairs on Astragalus ceramicus variety ceramicus so densely cover the surface of the leaves and stem that the overall appearance of the plant is not green but sage.