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Vicia cracca

Vicia cracca L.

 

Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusViciaClassical Latin name for this genus
SpeciescraccaFrom Latin cracca, the name for this vetch

About plant names...

Cow vetch is native to Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America and other parts of the world as a forage crop. Like other legumes, its roots trap nitrogen, allowing it to grow in poor soils. The trapped nitrogen enriches meadows for foraging. It has become naturalized and is now a common sight in meadows and disturbed soils. In some areas it is an invasive.

Identification: Plants can reach up to 6½' (2 m), clambering vinelike over other plants, though they are usually lower. Small tendrils wrap themselves around available supports, sometimes choking other plants. Stems are smooth (vs. hairy vetch). Leaves are 1-3" (3-8 cm) long, pinnate, with 5-12 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets are linear, with needlelike tips, ⅛-⅜" (5-10 mm) long. Flowers are one-sided racemes with curled tips and densely spaced purple-blue flowers. They appear from May to August. Seedpods look like miniature pea pods, about ¾" (2 cm) long.

Online References:

Vicia on www.jeffpippen.com

Vicia cracca on Wikipedia

Vicia cracca on Discover Life (photos)

Vicia cracca on Wikimedia Commons (photos)

Vicia cracca on luirig.altervista.org

Vicia cracca on the Ecology of Commanster

Vicia cracca on Invasive.org, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health

Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

5/24/2010 · Eastern Promenade, Portland, ME
≈ 7 × 9" (18 × 22 cm)

Vicia cracca description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 6 Nov 2013.

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Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

6/20/2010 · Blue Hill Reservation, Milford, MA
≈ 5 × 4" (13 × 11 cm)

Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 4 × 2½" (10 × 7 cm) ID is uncertain

Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

6/5/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 6" (12 × 14 cm)

Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

6/29/2014 · Mount Agamenticus, York, ME
≈ 4½ × 5" (11 × 13 cm)

Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

6/17/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Nashoba Hospital, MA
≈ 6 × 8" (14 × 20 cm)

Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

6/5/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 3½ × 2½' (1.2 × 0.8 m)

Vicia cracca (Cow Vetch, Blue Vetch, Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch)

6/20/2010 · Blue Hill Reservation, Milford, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm)

Range:

About this map...