Posted by: atowhee | May 23, 2013


VETCH PATCHHairy vetch or winter vetch is properly Vicia villosa. It was introduced to Oregon as a forage crop for cattle and other livestock. It does well on poor soils without irrigation so it has colonized large swaths of unforested, south-facing Cascade foothills where it mixes with other weeds and native survivors.purpl mtns

purple slope
This vetch is not considered by the state of Oregon to be one of the worst invasives, perhaps because it is edible. Interestingly, Himalayan blackberry, so often hated by native plant folks, is also NOT listed among the 100 worst invasive in the state. Many birds find the blackberry a fine source of fall and winter berries. Starthistle and phragmites both DO make the worst 100 invasive list for Oregon.
As you would assume from the vetch’s tendrils, flowers and leaves, they are members of the legume family. Their roots attract micro-organisms that fix nitrgoen into the soil, so lousy soul is not necessarily a deterrent if there are not too many heavy metals present. There are about 12-dozen species of vetches in the world, including some native to America. They are cousins to the lentil and peas.

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