Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Common Vetch (Vicia sativa)

Vicia sativa is known by the common names Common Vetch or Garden Vetch. The flowers are small and a relatively dark purple, dark enough that they don’t stand out. This is another plant that’s easy to miss in a grassy field, especially in the shade.

The plant in a field

The flower, face on

The flower in profile

A pair of flowers and the compound leaf characteristic of this species

These photographs were taken in 2009 when this species was growing profusely. It was interesting that I found ants – you can see them in all the photos of the flowers - on most plants, either at the junction of the stem and flower stalk or on the flowers. In Seattle, Arthur Lee Jacobson notes that ants are attracted to glands at the juncture of the stem and leaf.

Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) appears to be of Eurasian origin. It was introduced into the United States as a cover crop that will fix atmospheric nitrogen and as a pasture crop. It grows widely in the United States and Canada.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Vicia sativa (Garden Vetch)

Identification resources:
- Southeastern Flora: Common Vetch (Vicia sativa)

- Arthur Lee Jacobson: Common Vetch; Vicia sativa
- Wikipedia: Vicia sativa

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower

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