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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Narrow-Leaved Vetch

This is a tiny plant growing in my backyard. I've showed it to you before, but these pictures are much better. Sadly, it's alien (as are almost all the vetches), but it's one of my favorites. Maybe because it's small and hides. Maybe because it tries hard to be bold and bright even though it's tiny. I'm not sure why I like it.

It's narrow-leaved vetch, Vicia angustifolia. By the way, just as "cernuum" means nodding, "angustifolia" means narrow-leaved. So if you see that in a plant name... well, it has narrow leaves. Here's how it hides down in the grass.

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There are a couple of really distinctive things about this vetch. For one thing, it only has one or two blossoms on each stem. Most vetches have a whole lot of blossoms on a raceme (stalk). And those blossoms grow right out of the leaf axils (where the leaves meet the stem).

This picture also gives you a pretty good look at the stipule, that little do-dad where the leaf meets the stem. Also look at the blunt tips on the leaves with a point sticking out.

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If you look at the flowers head on, they look very flat. You'd never guess they are long and tublular unless you saw the above view first. This flower is only about a half inch across.

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This is a widely distributed species of waste places and fields, but because it's small it's seldom noticed. For the botany purists, some still consider it a variant of V. sativa.

See Leguminosae
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