Herbaceous perennial in the legume family. This species has creeping stems that form dense colonies, growing 2-6’ long. Flowers are pinkish to lavender to white and held in clusters. In winter and early spring, crown vetch can be easily recognized as large, brown patches.
- Crown vetch is difficult to control and rapidly reproduces vegetatively via rhizomes that can grow up to 10 feet per year. One plant may grow to completely cover 70-100 sq. feet within 4 years. Its seeds can remain viable in the soil for more than 15 years.
- Crown vetch prefers sunny, open areas, but also has a broad environmental tolerance. It can grow in full to partial sun, is drought tolerant but also withstands heavy precipitation, and colonizes a wide range of soil types.
- Invades a variety of ecosystems including prairies, grasslands, dunes, floodplains, forest edges, gravel bars in waterways, agricultural lands, and roadsides.
- Crown vetch alters native ecosystems through nitrogen fixation, enhancing soil fertility.
- It can climb over and smother shrubs and small trees as well as shade-out native herbaceous vegetation.
- Invasion of crown vetch can also change fire behavior by increasing fuel loads.
- Crown vetch has historically been planted for erosion control and is widely distributed throughout the state.
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