Coronilla varia (Crown Vetch)
|Also known as:||Purple Crownvetch|
|Origin:||Eurasia, N Africa|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; fields, along roads|
|Bloom season:||May - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1-inch round clusters of up to 25 irregular pink flowers. Individual flowers are about ½ inch long and ¼ inch wide, a typical shape for a member of the pea family, with pink upper and pale pink to white lower petals. Each flower cluster is at the end of a long naked stem arising from a leaf axil.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and compound in groups of 12 to 25. Leaflets are up to ¾ inches wide and 1½ inches long, rounded at both ends, often with a small tooth-like point at the tip. Stems are multiple from the base, sprawling, hairless to sparsely short-hairy, branched, and riged.
Crown Vetch is a creeping plant that was originally cultivated as a ground cover to prevent erosion and has been widely planted along roadsides and embankments. It is a quick spreader and can form large masses, creating dense monocultures where little else grows. It spreads both vegetatively through spreading rhizomes and by seed, and is exceedingly difficult to remove once established. It not only invades disturbed areas and roadsides, but also high quality habitat. It is much more widespread in the state than the distribution map indicates, since it was intentionally planted along many highways and county roads in the past and is still sold commercially.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Crown Vetch plants
- a mass of Crown Vetch
- roadside monoculture of Crown Vetch
- early growth
- atypical white flowers
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Stearns counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?