American vetch

(Vicia americana ssp. americana)

Conservation Status
American vetch (ssp. americana)
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


American vetch 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.




Trailing, up to 40 long.


Flower Color


Purple to blue


Similar Species


American purple 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.

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.


Moist. Woods, meadows.




June to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 7, 24, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  


Fabaceae (legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae  
  Tribe Fabeae (peas, vetches, and allies)  
  Genus Vicia (vetches)  
  Subgenus Vicilla  
  Section Americanae  
  Species Vicia americana (American vetch)  



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


purple vetch













The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



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



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



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



On a compound leaf, having the leaflets arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk. On a bryophyte, having branches evenly arranged on opposite sides of a stem.



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



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



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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    American vetch (ssp. americana)      


    American vetch (ssp. americana)   American vetch (ssp. americana)  
    American vetch (ssp. americana)      


    American vetch (ssp. americana)   American vetch (ssp. americana)  


    American vetch (ssp. americana)   American vetch (ssp. americana)  


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






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Location: Fairview Twp, Cass County

American vetch  

Badoura Jack Pine Woodland SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blackhoof River WMA

Blanket Flower Prairie SNA

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Bur Oak WMA

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Des Moines River SNA

Dry Sand WMA

Falls Creek SNA

Flandrau State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Greenwater Lake SNA

Gustafson’s Camp SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Hemlock Ravine SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Iron Springs Bog SNA

Itasca State Park

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

La Salle Lake SNA

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Maria State Park

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lester Lake SNA

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Ney Nature Center

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Old Mill State Park

Ordway Prairie

Otter Tail Prairie SNA

Partch Woods SNA

Paul Bunyan Savanna

Phelps Lake WMA

Pilot Knob

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Quarry Park SNA

Racine Prairie SNA

Ripley Esker SNA

Ritter Farm Park

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Scenic State Park

Schoolcraft State Park

Sedan Brook Prairie SNA

Seven Sisters Prairie

Sibley State Park

Staffanson Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Tiedemann WMA

Tribute WMA

Twin Lakes SNA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Woodbury WMA

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA







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