Vicia cracca
bird vetch, cow vetch

Vicia cracca

Photo courtesy Renee Brecht
Britton & Brown Line Drawing
Botanical name: Vicia cracca
Common name: bird vetch, cow vetch
Group: dicot
Family: Fabaceae
Growth type: forb/herb, vine
Duration: perennial
Origin: introduced
Plant height: creeping, 12-40"
Foliage: plants trailing or climbing, 2-3', hairy, pressed closely to stem; toothless leaflets, 10-24; stipules entire
Flower: violet-blue, 1/2" long, dense one sided racemes
Flowering time: late spring and summer
Habitat: weed of waste ground and roadsides
Range in New Jersey: statewide
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc. Planted extensively on highway banks for erosion control. It is good forage for deer in the winter, and ground cover for ground-nesting birds. Rabbits use it for food and cover.

Plant often becomes weedy and invasive, displacing native vegetation.