Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Western Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
American Purple Vetch
Vicia americana Muhl. ex Willd.
- Family: Pea (Leguminosae)
- Flowering: May-August
- Field Marks: This vetch is distinguished by its racemes of only 2-10 flowers and its large flowers 1/2-1 inch long.
- Habitat: Along streams, damp thickets, prairies, roadsides, open places.
- Habit: Sprawling perennial vine, sometimes scrambling over other vegetation.
- Stems: Sprawling or climbing, up to 3 feet long, smooth or sometimes hairy.
- Leaves: Alternate, pinnately compound, with 4-16 leaflets and a branched tendril where a terminal leaflet should be; leaflets linear to oblong to ovate, up to 2 inches long, rounded but with a small projection at the tip, with or without teeth,
- Flowers: Flowers 2-9 in racemes from the axils of the leaves, the racemes on stalks shorter than the leaves.
- Sepals: 5, united below, green, the tube up to 1/4 inch long, the teeth very unequal in size and shape.
- Petals: 5, purple, up to 1 inch long, with the configuration of a sweetpea flower.
- Stamens: 10.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, smooth.
- Fruits: Pods up to nearly 2 inches long, up to nearly 1/2 inch wide, smooth, containing 8-14 seeds; seeds black, 1/6-1/4 inch in diameter.
- Notes: There is considerable variation in leaflet size and number.
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