Fall Wildflowers of New England
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Cow Vetch
Vicia cracca
F. Fabaceae
General Description:

Cow vetch is a delicate climbing vine that measures approximately 1.2 m. in length. The lavender or blue, bilaterally symmetrical flowers of the cow vetch are relatively small and are densely arranged in unilateral, drooping spikelets. The bright-green leaves are pinnately compound having several small, ovate leaflets and a pair of tendrils at the end of each leaf. This climbing vine can often form thick covers of growth.

Vicia cracca
Flowers:

The flowers of the cow vetch are considerably small, measuring 1.5 cm. in length. The lavender or blue bloom has a bilaterally symmetrical pea-flower shape and is densely arranged at a downward slanted angle along the length of a spikelet.

Fruit:

The pod-like fruit of the cow vetch is small and carries a small number of seeds.

Leaves:

The pinnately-compound leaves of this flower are broad and long having several, small, bright-green, ovate leaflets, measuring approximately 2.5 cm in length, along the the leaf stalk. The end of each leaf has a pair of green tendrils.

Habitat:

The cow vetch grows best in open fields and along roadsides.

Fun Facts:

Cow vetch seeds are a popular delicacy for budgies and similar domesticated birds.

As evidenced by its name, the cow vetch is s popular grazing crop for cows.

Other names attributed to the cow vetch include the tufted vetch and the bird vetch.

Like other legumes, the cow vetch enriches soil via the nitrogen fixing properties of its roots.

Vicia cracca
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