vetch, purple

COMMON NAME: Vetch, purple
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Vicia americana
FAMILY: Fabaceae
FEATURES: Common annual vetch species. Trailing, prostrate growth habit developing a dense smothering
ground cover. Stems glabrous, green, thin. Leaves pinnately compound 5 to 8 cm in length with
10 to 16 leaflets. Leaflets linear with pinnate venation. A single tendril extends from the end of
the leaf used for climbing. Inflorescence a cluster of tubular purple flowers. Inflorescence contains
20 to 40 individual flowers that aggregate on one side of the stem. Individual flowers are tubular,
approximately 1 to 2 cm in length.
DESCRIPTION: All vetch species are very similar and are most easy differentiated by comparing flowers. Common
vetch and purple vetch are very similar. Purple vetch produces a cluster of tubular purple flowers
while common vetch produces solitary larger purple flowers. Purple vetch is often planted as a winter
cover crops for winter weed control and nitrogen fixation. Also planted along roadsides as a ground cover.

Broad View Stem, leaf, and flower.

Broad View
Stem, leaf, and flower.

Flower / Seed Head Inflorescence

Flower / Seed Head

Leaf Tendril


Additional Legumes


Leaf Leaf