April 23, 2017

Tenacious Tendrils

Vicia cracca - Cow vetch | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Vicia cracca – Cow vetch | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Little bursts of purple blossoms tenaciously cling to other plants in field and meadows this time of year. They are Vicia cracca, better known as cow vetch. This climbing vine is not a native of the U.S., but of Europe and Asia. A member of the pea family, it was introduced in the United States as forage for cattle. It also enriches the soil like other legumes by fixing nitrogen in the soil. The plant can climb to about a meter in height by tendrils at the tips of the leaves. The plant is also known as bird vetch because it is a source of food with its seeds and foliage.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.