WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

The tangled mass of shin-deep, sprawling stems of Crown Vetch spreads up to three feet around and over other vegetation. This invasive plant spreads by rhizomes and can blanket meadows and open hillsides to the exclusion of other flowers. As a legume, it fixes nitrogen in the soil, which can stimulate the growth of weedy invasives that can out-compete native species. Note the spherical cluster of pinkish-white, bilaterally symmetrical flowers.


FLOWERS: May–September. Dense, cylindrical clusters of 5–20 pea-like flowers, 1/2-inch long (12 mm), on a 2–6-inch long stem (peduncle) from leaf axils; petals pink to white, 2 wings enclose the keel with a banner above.


LEAVES: Alternate. Blade odd-pinnately compound (odd number of leaflets), 11–25 oblong to egg-shaped leaflets spaced opposite along midrib, each leaflet 3/4-inch-long (18 mm), 1/4 inch-wide (6 mm), margins entire.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly soils, meadows, roadsides, disturbed areas; prairies, pinyon-juniper, ponderosa forests.


ELEVATION: 5,500–9,500 feet.


RANGE: Introduced from Europe and naturalized nationwide.


SIMILAR SPECIES: The sprawling, prostrate stems and dense flower head distinguish this plant. Covers, Trifolium species,  have similar flower clusters but only three leaflets. American vetch, Vicia americana, has flowers in rows and opposite even-pinnately leaflets.


NM COUNTIES: Scattered across NM in mid- to high-elevation, disturbed habitats: Bernalillo, Colfax, Grant, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Mora, Otero, Quay, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Socorro, Taos, Union.

CROWN VETCH

SECURIGERA  VARIA  (CORONILLA  VARIA)

Legume Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb, introduced, invasive

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Securigera varia

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