Sunday, April 21, 2013

How Fetching is the Vetch

It has been a good year for  vetch, the flowers shown here. The roadsides around here have been covered with it. There are well over 100 different vetches in the genus Vicia, including this Vicia grandiflora, which is a white cousin to the purple. This purple may be cow vetch, Vicia cracca. They are legumes. Certain Vicias are toxic and others have been eaten during times of famine. In the picture below, you can see the pea pod.

Cow vetch is used as forage for--surprise, surprise!--cows! Honeybees and other insects also feed on the nectar from the flowers. Like other legumes, it has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Unfortunately, it also has the ability to take over and suffocate other plants.

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