Sub-category: Pea family
Tufted Vetch is widely used as a forage crop for cattle, and is beneficial to other plants because, like other leguminous plants, it enriches the soil in which it grows by its nitrogen-fixing properties. Tufted Vetch is also much appreciated by bees and butterflies as a source of nectar. The plant may also be used to curb erosion.
Cow vetch is similar to a pea in growth habit with climbing stems growing to 150 cm long, perennial, sending out noose-like branched tendrils from the tips of its leaves when it contacts another plant and securely fastens itself. An individual plant may reach a length (or height) of 2 m with a white taproot, which may extend up to 1 m. The leaves are 3 to 8 cm long, pinnate, with 8 to 12 pairs of leaflets, each leaflet 5 to 10 mm long. The plant is fast-growing and flowers prolifically, sending out 10 to 40 flowered one-sided racemes cascading pea-flower shaped purple to violet flowers from the leaf axil. Tiny bright green seed pods 10 to 20 mm long.
It often occurs in disturbed habitats, including old-fields and roadside ditches. Flowers late spring to late summer.