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Friday, September 24, 2010

Canadian Milk Vetch?

canadian milk vetch

I'm not sure I have this identified quite correctly. The vetches are really tricky, and there are quite a few of them. But of the four that I've found in my field, the white one is least often found. Even though it's white, I'm pretty sure it's not Canadian Milk Vetch, Astragalus canadensis.

hairy vetch

I used to think that it was just a color variation of this Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa, or the Cow Vetch, Vicia cracca, which is really similar, but all purple. But I'm not sure if it's really a different plant.
white vetch

Here are some buds. I like how they curl
white vetch

The leaves are rounder than the others, too. All three of these that I've just mentioned are good cover crops (they are legumes, so they put nitrogen back into the soil), and they are good food for cows. But they are not good at all for humans, and other mammals with one stomach compartment, to eat. They contain cyanide. A couple of seeds won't kill you, but a large quantity could. In other words.... these are not a wild edible that you should gather!

See Leguminoseae, OK... Pea Family


Ann said...

The purple and white do look a lot alike. Gathering wild edibles would not be a good idea for someone like me. I could very easily mistake plants for something else

earthtoholly said...

These are beautiful. I think I've seen something similar in yards around here, but like you said, identification is tricky, so I won't go there!

Thanks so much for identifying my Spiney Puffball, by the way! :o)

spinninglovelydays said...

Ooh, how pretty! I'd love to be able to identify plants and be confident in my knowledge that I can actually go out to gather edibles. :)

betchai said...

they are pretty, i especially like the purple one, i am not sure if i have seen both of them, we do have something that may look similar but not so sure if the same.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Ann- Well, I was pretty surprised to learn that you shouldn't eat these!

Holly- sorry I haven't visited you more, lately. Now I just want to see one of those beauties in person!

Ivy- all it takes is a slight obsession!

betchai- there are lots of vetches, so I'm sure you've seen something similar.

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