Crown Vetch Duo

Ron Russell

Newport, United States

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Canon SX40 HS
Shot in an empty commercial lot in Crestview Hills, KY.

Common Names: crown vetch, purple vetch
Native Origin: Europe, southwest Asia and
northern Africa
Description: Crown vetch is a perennial
legume in the pea/legume family (Fabaceae
or Leguminosae. It can form large clumps
from creeping stems. The stems can be up to
6 feet long. Crown vetch has rhizomes up to
10 feet long which allow the plant to spread
rapidly. The vegetative growth habit can
rapidly cover and shade out native
vegetation. A single plant may fully cover 70 to 100 square feet within a four year period. Compound leaves
consist of 15-25 pairs of oblong leaflets. Pinkish flowers are clustered in umbels on long stalks. The flowers
develop into narrow, flattened pods. The seeds are reported to be poisonous. Crown vetch blooms from May
through August. It spreads both vegetatively through rhizomes and through the dispersal of seeds.
Habitat: Crown vetch has been grown extensively in the northern two-thirds of the United States for
temporary ground cover, erosion control, and as a green fertilizer crop. It is also used as a bank stabilizer
along roads and waterways. It occurs along roadsides and other rights-of-way, in open fields and on gravel
bars along streams. It can survive in a variety of environmental conditions, but has the highest yields in areas
with 18 inches or more annual precipitation. It can tolerate up to 65 inches of annual precipitation, as well as
withstand long periods of drought, but cannot tolerate flooded or anaerobic soil conditions. It prefers sunny,
open areas, as it is intolerant of shade, and mature plants can withstand minimum temperatures of –28° F.
Distribution: This species is reported from states shaded on Plants Database map. It is reported invasive in
CT, IN, KY, MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, OR, TN, VA, and WI.
Ecological Impacts: Crown vetch is a serious management threat to natural
areas due to its seeding ability and rapid vegetative spreading by rhizomes.
This aggressive exotic is now widespread along roadsides and natural areas. It
becomes problematic when it invades into natural areas, such as grassland
prairies and dunes, where it works to exclude native vegetation by fully
covering and shading native plants. It can climb over small trees and shrubs,
and eventually form large single-species stands.

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Artwork Comments

  • AnnetteHoll
  • Ron Russell
  • Ray Clarke
  • Digitalbcon
  • Ron Russell
  • lorilee
  • Ron Russell
  • Digitalbcon
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