Vetch, tufted, Vicia cracca

Life Cycle

Perennial.

Propagation

Reproducing by seeds and underground root stocks.

Stems

Stems 40cm-2m long, weak, wiry, trailing on the ground or climbing on nearby objects.

Leaves

Leaves alternate (1 per node), pinnately compound with 8 to 12 pairs of bristle-tipped leaflets and branching tendrils at the end; the plant climbing by means of these tendrils.

Flowers and Fruit

Flowers bluish-purple, pea-like, about 12mm long, often 30 or more crowded together on one side of a long bare stalk; seedpods pea-like, 10-25mm long by 4-6mm wide, partly flattened, light brown, containing 2 to 8 rounded to oval reddish-brown seeds; seeds 2.5-3mm across and marked with a prominent, long, whitish or reddish-brown scar. Flowers from early June to late autumn.

Roots and Underground Structures

Tufted vetch has a spreading underground rootstock.

Habitat

Tufted vetch occurs throughout Ontario in cultivated fields, pastures, waste places, roadsides and gardens.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished by its spreading underground rootstalks, compound leaves with 8 to 12 pairs of leaflets and branching tendrils, many flowers clustered on one side of a long stalk, and its flattened, brownish seedpods containing up to 8 rounded seeds, each with a scar extending ¼ to 1/3 of the way around it.


Figure #1.

Tufted vetch A. Base of plant B. Top of flowering stem C. Seedpods


Figure #2.

Tufted vetch seedling


Figure #3.

Tufted vetch leaf. Note the tendrils at the end of the leaf.


Figure #4.

Tufted vetch flower.


Figure #5.

Tufted vetch seedpods.


Figure #6.

In field.