Cow vetch (Vicia cracca)

Cow vetch Common Names: Bird vetch

Description: Species is a large concern in prairie and other natural habitat restoration or land reclamation projects.

Habit: Herbaceous, climbing or trailing, perennial, up to 3 ft long forb, 1-3 ft taproot.

Leaves: Pinnately-divided into 5-11 pairs of linear leaflets, leaf tips with tendrils.

Stems: Weak; range from 2-3 ft high; clamber over other vegetation; smothering; spreading hairs.

Flowers: Blue in color, 5-parted, 1/2 in long, calyx base not swollen, inflorescence a crowded, long-stalked cluster (raceme) with 20-50 stalked flowers.

Fruit and seeds: Seeds are contained in numerous inch long pods, brownish lance-shaped and flat.

Habitat: Native to Eurasia. Found in fields, roadsides, meadows.

Reproduction: By seed.

Similar species: American vetch (Vicia americana).

Monitoring and rapid response: Pulling small infestations before seeds develop; spray with selective herbicide such as clopyralid.

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the USDA PLANTS Database.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:

Cow vetch

Scientific Name:

Vicia cracca







USDA Symbol: