Oxytropis scammaniana is an tufted alpine herb in the pea family (Fabaceae), with few purple flowers that grows in moist to wet areas on tundra including snowbeds. Plants grow from a branching caudex, covered in straw-colored stipules, up to 10 cm tall. Leaves are basal, pinnate, with 9-13 lanceolate to elliptic leaflets, margins entire. Flowers are typically three, clustered at the top of an upright stem covered in long white hairs. Flowers are bilaterally symmetric, the lowermost petal (the keel) sharply pointed. The calyx is black-hairy, petals are blue to purple. The fruit is a pod, 1-2 cm long, black-haired. This species can be separated from other cushion-forming, blue-flowered Oxytropis in the flora by the upright flowering stems, and the straw-colored stipules that are hairless on the upper surface.
Oxytropis scammaniana is a deciduous perennial, flowering in mid-summer and fruiting in the fall.
This species is monoecious with bisexual flowers. Oxytropis is typically pollinated by bees, but the pollination and dispersal biology of this particular species has not been studied. The fruits are pods. Plants have root nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Rhizobium), allowing plants to colonize nutrient-poor soils.
Many species of Oxytropis produce the toxin swainsonine, which is harmful if consumed in large quantities.
Oxytropis scammaniana is an amphi-Beringian endemic arctic-alpine species, with disjunct stations in the Mackenzie Mts. and Northwest Territory. Within Alaska, this species ranges from the northern edge of the Brooks Range through the Yukon-Tanana Uplands and Alaska Range to the Wrangell Mts. The species is also known from a few sites in northern British Columbia and southern Yukon Territory, as well as Kamchatka. In Denali, O. scammaniana occurs occasionally across the northern Alaska Range, with a few stations in the Chulitna River drainage to the south.
Oxytropis scammaniana is primarily an alpine plant, found from 700 to 1600 meters in Denali. It occurs equally on all aspects, but plants on northern aspects grow across a wider range of elevations. This species occurs across a range of slopes, from level to very steep, but has a slight preference for steeper slopes.