Purple vetch

Common Name:

vetch, purple

Scientific Name:

Vicia americana






Common annual vetch species. Trailing, prostrate growth habit developing a dense smothering ground cover. Stems glabrous, green, thin. Leaves pinnately compound 5 to 8 cm in length with 10 to 16 leaflets. Leaflets linear with pinnate venation. A single tendril extends from the end of the leaf used for climbing. Inflorescence a cluster of tubular purple flowers. Inflorescence contains 20 to 40 individual flowers that aggregate on one side of the stem. Individual flowers are tubular, approximately 1 to 2 cm in length.


All vetch species are very similar and are most easy differentiated by comparing flowers. Common vetch and purple vetch are very similar. Purple vetch produces a cluster of tubular purple flowers while common vetch produces solitary larger purple flowers. Purple vetch is often planted as a winter cover crops for winter weed control and nitrogen fixation. Also planted along roadsides as a ground cover.