Scientific Name: Coronilla varia

Common Name: crownvetch

Other Common Names: purple crownvetch

Synonyms: Coronilla varia

Habit: Crown vetch has been grown extensively in the northern two-thirds of the United States for temporary ground cover, erosion control, and as a green fertilizer crop. It is also used as a bank stabilizer along roads and waterways. This plant prefers open, sunny areas. It occurs along roadsides and other rights-of-way, in open fields and on gravel bars along streams.

Leaves: The plants compound leaves with an odd number of leaflets ranging from 15-25. Leaves and flower stalks arise from the main stem. It does not have tendrils at the end of the leaf stem; instead, it has another leaf to cap it or "crown" it. Leaves are hairless, alternate, 6-20 mm long, 3-12 mm wide, and stalks are up to 1.2 mm long. Leaves are pinnately compound.

Identifying Characteristics: It has a crown leaf, is hairless, and globular flowers. It is tolerant to drought and can withstand waterlogging.

Flower Seed Head: Flower clusters range in color from pinkish-lavender to white, occur in umbels on long, extended stalks, and bloom from May through August. Flowers produce long, narrow pods containing slender seeds.

Seed Fruit: The four-angled legume is from 1.5-5.5 cm long. It has from three to seven one-seeded segments. Seeds resemble hairy vetch but have a lighter colored rachis.

Where Found: The natural distribution of crown vetch is Europe, southwest Asia and northern Africa. It is introduced or naturalized in the United States from Maine to South Dakota, south to Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri. It is widespread in Missouri, having been extensively planted on rights-of-way along the interstate highway system.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Vine

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Fabaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: oval

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: pink; white

  • Growth habit: prostrate and nonwoody

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: pinnate

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower symmetry: bilateral symmetry

  • Flower diameter: dime; nickle; quarter

  • Root structure: rhizomes present

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf; none