Hedysarum leaves are odd-pinnate, with entire leaflets (no notches or indentations). The stipules are free or connate, and stipels (secondary stipules) are absent. The inflorescences are peduncled racemes or heads. Bracts are small, with bracteoles below the calyx, and calyx teeth subequal.
Herbs, rarely shrublets or shrubs. Stipules 2, opposite petiole, scarious, connate or free, marcescent or deciduous. Leaves imparipinnate; leaflet blades opposite, margin entire. Racemes axillary, lax to capitate; bracts marcescent or caducous. Bracteoles 2, at base of calyx. Calyx campanulate to obliquely campanulate; teeth 5, ± equal or unequal. Corolla purple, pink, yellow, or white; standard usually longer than wings, shorter or rarely as long as or longer than keel, turned backward at anthesis; keel with claw half or less than half as long as lamina. Stamens diadelphous (9+1).