Common Herb Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Vicia americana
American Vetch
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

American Vetch Description

General - a trailing or climbing perennial often forming tangled masses; stems growing 0.3 - 1 m tall.

Leaves - alternate, compound, simple or forked tendrils at tip; 8 - 14 leaflets, elliptic to oblong, usually 15 - 35 mm long; stipules 3 - 11 mm long, sharply toothed.

Flowers - 3 to 9 in loose clusters at stem tips; pea-like; bluish to reddish purple; petals 1.5 - 2 cm long.; appearing in early summer.

Fruit - a hairless pods, flat, 2 - 4 cm long; ripening late-summer.


Fields, thickets, and open woods; widespread across our region, north and west to Mackenzie Delta; prefers dry/fresh, sandy or coarse loamy soil conditions and disturbed ground.


Although some species of Victa are edible, many vetches contain compounds that produce hydrocyanic acid and cause cyanide poisoning. Never eat a vetch unless you are certain it is not poisonous. The name 'vetch' is from the Latin, vicia, which is thought to be derived from the Latin verb vincio, 'to blind', in reference to the climbing habit of these plants.

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