Astragalus nutzotinensis is a prostate herb with distinctive sickle-shaped pods that allow them to roll along gravel bars pushed by the wind. A member of the pea family (Fabaceae), this species occurs most common in open stony soil of glacial river floodplains, but also in steep, rocky slopes in the alpine zone. The plants grow in tufts from a rhizome, typically found prostrate along the ground, reaching 6-10 cm in height. Leaves are pinnate, with 7-15 oblong to obovate leaflets. Racemes have 2-4 flowers at the top of a stalk. The flowers are pale purple to pink, with the bilateral morphology typical of the pea family. Petals are 12-18 mm long. The calyx has black hairs. The large seed pods are the most notable character—in maturity they are highly curved, nearly circular, 3-5 cm long.
Astragalus nutzotinensis is perennial and typically flowers in early to mid-summer.
Members of the genus Astragalus are insect pollinated, especially by bees. The fruit is a pod, which splits open at maturity to release its seeds to be dispersed by gravity and water.
Astragalus nutzotinensis is endemic to Alaska and the Yukon Territory. It is found in the Alaska Range, the Wrangell and St. Elias mountains and the Brooks Range. Within Denali, it is found in scattered locations in the Alaska Range, particularly along large braided river systems, as well as in the mountains near the West Fork of the Chulitna River.
Astragalus nutzotinensis is typically found at moderately high elevations (around 1000 m), but has been found as high as 1466 m. It is found on a wide range of slopes, from 0 to 38 degrees. It is found on both northern and southern aspects, but is more common on south-facing slopes.