Vetch, tufted, Vicia cracca

Life Cycle



Reproducing by seeds and underground root stocks.


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


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.


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.