Cow Vetch; Blue Vetch - Vicia cracca (Pea family - Leguminosae)

 

Cow Vetch; Blue Vetch - Vicia cracca (Pea family - Leguminosae) A climbing plant with gray-green leaves and long one-sided crowded spikes of pea-like tubular lavender-to-blue flowers, directed downward on a long stalk. The flowers appear dark purple when fresh but may turn pink as they wither. Vetches are mostly climbing plants with compound leaves ending in tendrils.

 

 

 

The plant was brought from Europe as a forage crop for cattle. It has often been plowed under as a "green manure" since its roots contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria which synthesizes nitrates, a valuable plant food. Native Americans boiled and ate the roots and used the tender stems as spring greens. The seeds were added to soups and used in seasonings.

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