Crown Vetch

Common Name: Crown Vetch.

Scientific Name: Securigera Varia.

What to look for?  A spreading multitude of small pink flowers amidst a field of green! The Crown Vetch’s creeping stems ascend to form a dense layer of green, leafy vegetation capable of excluding other plants. Each compound leaf consists of a dozen tiny pairs of oblong leaflets. Tendrils are not produced by a Crown Vetch – no “Little House of Horrors” clinging plant. From the axils of the upper leaves, there develops individual flowering stalks containing a circular - like a crown - umbel or cluster of ten (10) to twenty-five (25) flowers. Each pea-like flower has five (5) pink petals. Each flower produces an angular seedpod that contains up to twelve (12) seeds. Also, the root system produces abundant spreading rhizomes that often form vegetative colonies.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Crown Vetch colonies may be found in fields around Carillon Stonegate Pond as well as in fields around the forest preserve.

How big are they? Crown Vetch is typically one (1) to three (3) feet tall. The oblong leaves are approximately six (6) inches long. And each flower is one-quarter (0.25) of one inch across.

Where do they grow and thrive? Crown Vetch was introduced from Europe, Asia and Africa, escaped from cultivation, and now is naturalized. It is found across most of the U.S. Habitats include open fields, prairies, grassy meadows, areas along roads, edges of cropland, and abandoned fields.

When do they bloom? The blooming period of the Crown Vetch usually occurs from late spring until late summer. It peaks for about 2 months during early and mid-summer.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The nectar of the flowers of the Crown Vetch attracts bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. Some insects are known to feed on the foliage of Crown Vetch, including both adults and larvae of several beetles and larvae of some butterflies and skippers as well as the Marmorated Brown Stink Bug and Differential Grasshopper. Whitetail Deer consume the foliage of Crown Vetch and are immune to the toxin contained in this plant. Because Crown Vetch forms dense colonies of plants, it provides good protective cover for ground-nesting birds, meadow voles, and rabbits.

Interesting Facts About the Crown Vetch:

  • Crown Vetch was introduced into the United States from Europe by various transportation departments for erosion control and highway beautification.

  • The foliage of Crown Vetch contains coronillin that is potentially toxic to some mammals.

For more information on the Crown Vetch and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, Missouri Department of Conservation, and Ohio State University Weed Guide.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!