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Cow Vetch

Vicia cracca

Common Name: Cow vetch (a.k.a. Tufted vetch)
Scientific Name: Vicia cracca
Family: Fabaceae
Growth Form: Herb
Native Range: Europe and Asia
Alien Range: Southern Canada, south to Illinois, Michigan and Virginia
Introduction: Cow vetch was brought from Europe as an ornamental and escaped from cultivation.
Description: ·Leaves: Pinnately compound, leaflets in opposing rows. 8-12 pairs of leaflets.  Velvety texture. Terminate in long tendril that is used to attach to other plants.

·Stem: Weak.  0.5-1 m (2-3 ft.) tall.  Fine hair.  Climbs over other vegetation.

·Flowers: 1 cm (0.5 in.) long.  Blue or violet.  Cluster on one side of protruding spike.  Present from May to August.

·Fruit: Flat, brown pod. 2-3 cm (1-1.5 in.) long.  Contains seeds.   
Threats: Cow vetch can invade disturbed sites and prairie reconstructions, shading out or smothering native vegetation.
Fun Facts: The sweet nectar of cow vetch is commonly enjoyed by bees and butterflies. 
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