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Spring Vetch Vicia sativa


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Spring Vetch
credit: From Heather/CCSA

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Alternate name: Garden Vetch

Family: Fabaceae, Pea view all from this family

Description This trailing or climbing vine, a common weed of cropland, bears purple or pink pea flowers, each held singly.
Habit: native annual vine.
Height: stems to 42 in (1.1 m).
Leaf: alternate, pinnately compound; leaflets in 4-8 pairs, linear to wedge-shaped, 0.5-1.5 in (1.5-4 cm) long; small stipules at base of leaf stalk, 0.1-0.4 in (2-10 mm) long.
Flower: purple to pink, rarely white, to 1.25 in (3 cm) long; on long stalk from leaf axil.
Fruit: pod, 1-3 in (2.5-7.5 cm) long, 0.1-0.3 in (2.5-8 mm) wide; initially hairy, becoming smooth.

Warning The seeds of this Vicia contain cyanide compounds and are toxic to humans and animals if eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Flower April to July.

Habitat cropland, fields, pastures, landscaping, roadsides, disturbed sites; usually below 5000 ft (1500 m).

Range Native to Europe and Asia; introduced; naturalized in every U.S. state except Utah; in Canada, the Yukon, British Columbia, and from Manitoba to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Discussion Also called garden vetch, common vetch, slimleaf vetch, "the vetch", tare. Up to five subspecies are generally accepted.