American vetch

(Vicia americana ssp. americana)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

American vetch (var. americana)

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

Widespread

Habitat

Moist. Woods, meadows.

Flowering

June to August

     
Flower Color

Purple to blue

     
Height

Trailing, up to 40 long.

     

Identification

This is a trailing or climbing perennial forb.

The stems recline on the ground. They extend 16 to 40. They are hairless and often zigzagged.

The leaves are alternate and pinnately divided into 4 to 8 pairs of leaflets. Each leaf has a tendril in place of a terminal leaflet and an even total number of leaflets. The tendril has several branches. There are a pair of conspicuous, leaf-like stipules at the base of each leaf stalk. The stipules are sharply toothed, about long, and about 7 16 wide.

The leaflets are egg-shaped or elliptic, to 1 long, and 3 16 to ½ wide. They are thin, not stiff. The leaf tips are blunt or broadly rounded and tipped with a short, sharp, abrupt point. There are numerous lateral veins leaving the midrib at an angle of about 45°, branching, and then rejoining and forming an intertwining network before reaching the margin. The upper and lower surfaces of the leaflet blade are hairless or sparsely covered with appressed hairs. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is a loose, unbranched cluster (raceme) of 2 to 9 short-stalked flowers. The raceme is uncrowded and more or less one-sided. It is on a stalk rising from a leaf axil. The stalk is shorter than the subtending leaf.

The flowers are to 11 16 long. There are 5 sepals fused for most of their length into a hairy, ¼ to 5 16 long, cylinder-shaped calyx tube. The 5 petals are purple to blue and form a butterfly-like corolla, typical of plants in the Pea family. They are organized into a banner petal at the top, two lateral wing petals, and between the wings two petals fused into a keel. The banner is notched at the tip.

The fruit is a pod, about 1 long, containing 8 to 14 seeds.

 
Similar
Species

Common vetch (Vicia sativa) leaflets are indented at the tip. The flowers appear singly or in pairs from the leaf axils.

Cow vetch (Vicia cracca ssp. cracca) flowers are borne in a crowded, one-sided spike.

Winter vetch (Vicia villosa) flowers are borne in a crowded, one-sided spike.

Mat vetch (Vicia americana ssp. minor) leaflets are thick, narrowly linear, and densely hairy. They have prominent, unbranched lateral veins that leave the midrib at a narrow angle.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 3, 4, 7.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Fabaceae (pea)

 

Subfamily:

Faboideae (Papilionoideae)

 

Tribe:

Fabeae

 

Genus:

Vicia

 

Subgenus:

Vicilla

 

Section:

Americanae

 
Parent

American vetch (Vicia americana)

 
Synonyms

Vicia americana ssp. oregana

Vicia americana var. americana

Vicia americana var. oregana

Vicia americana var. truncata

Vicia americana var. villosa

Vicia californica

Vicia californica var. madrensis

Vicia oregana

Vicia sparsifolia var. truncata

Vicia truncata

Vicia truncata var. villosa

 
Common
Names

American vetch

pea-vine

purple vetch


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

axil

The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.

 

calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.

 

caudex

A short, thickened, woody, persistent enlargement of the stem, at or below ground level, used for water storage.

 

corolla

A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.

 

pinnate

Having the leaflets of a compound leaf arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk.

 

raceme

An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.

 

sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

stipule

A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

       

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Plant

  American vetch (var. americana)   American vetch (var. americana)
       
  American vetch (var. americana)   American vetch (var. americana)
       

Inflorescence

  American vetch (var. americana)   American vetch (var. americana)
       
  American vetch (var. americana)   American vetch (var. americana)
       

Flower

  American vetch (var. americana)    
       

Leaves

  American vetch (var. americana)   American vetch (var. americana)
       
       

 

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