WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

The low climbing vines with slender stems to 6-feet long and purple flowers sprawls over grasses, boulders, and low shrubs. The midrib (rachis) of the long, compound leaves of all vetches  extends to form a branching, twining tendril. Note the purple, pea-like flowers, tendrils, and hairless calyx (sepals holding the petals).


FLOWER: May–September. Flowers bloom in a loose, one-sided cluster on a 3/4–2 5/8-inch long (18–67 mm) stalk (raceme) from the leaf axils. Each cluster has 1–9, purple to lavender, bilaterally symmetrical flowers, 1/2–1 inch (12–25 mm) long. The 5 petals form an upper notched banner, 2 side wings, with the 2 lower united into a keel. Note the sepals (calyx) are hairless. Fruit is a 1–1 3/4-inch long, slender, flattish pod.


LEAVES: Alternate. Blade pinnately compound with 8–18 leaflets, each 5/8–1 3/8-inches long (15–35 mm) by 1/4–9/16-inch wide (6–14 mm), variable from elliptic to oval or lance-shaped, and generally hairless on both sides. A twining, branching tendril extends from the leaf tip.


ELEVATION: 7,000–11,000 feet.


HABITAT: Gravelly, loam soils, meadows, stream sides, roadsides, trails, disturbed areas; pinyon-juniper, ponderosa-Douglas fir, spruce-fir forests.


RANGE: AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, TX; north to Great Lakes, Canada.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Highly variable, American Vetch has been divided into 9 varieties and 4 subspecies. The common subspecies in NM is subsp. ludovidiana. Subsp. minor (occurring in El Malpais National Monument) has narrow almost thread-like leaflets. NM has 6 species of Vica. The widespread Louisiana Vetch, V. ludoviciana, has smaller pale-blue flowers, only 1/4-inch (5–8 mm) long, and hairy sepals (calyx).


NM COUNTIES: Widespread in NM mountains (not reported on eastern plains) in mid- to high-elevation habitats: Bernalillo, Catron, Cibola, Colfax, De Baca, Dona Ana, Eddy, Grant, Guadalupe, Harding, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Luna, McKinley, Mora, Otero, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union, Valencia.

AMERICAN  VETCH

VICIA  AMERICANA

Pea Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herbaceous vine

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Flowers bloom on one side of the stem (raceme).  The calyx is nearly hairless (arrow).

The leaf tip has a twinning tendril (arrow).

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