This is an extraordinarily variable species, some of whose forms should probably be separated into independent species[
Cracca gerardii (All.) Gren. & Godr.
Cracca major Gren. & Godr.
Vicia galloprovincialis Poir.
Vicia gerardii All.
Vicia grossheimii Ekvtim.
Vicia heteropus Freyn
Vicia incana Gouan
Vicia macrophylla (Maxim.) B.Fedtsch.
Vicia oiana Honda
Vicia oreophila Zertova
Vicia variabilis Grossh.
Common Name: Tufted Vetch
Vicia cracca is a herbaceous perennial climbing plant growing 30 - 180cm tall. The usually branching stems scramble over the ground, climbing into surrounding vegetation where they attach themselves by means of tendrils[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It has occasionally been cultivated as a food plant, but yields are too low to make it very worthwhile[
]. It is sometimes used as a green manure.
The plant can escape from cultivation and become a weed of cultivated and disturbed ground[
The seeds contain the anti-nutritional compound L-canavanine, a competitive inhibitor of arginine decarboxylase. This is removed by soaking the seeds in water prior to cooking and discarding the soak water.
Eurasia - Norway to Portugal, east to eastern Siberia, China, Japan, Korea, Turkey and the Levant
Grassy and bushy places, avoiding acid soils[
]. Forest margins, thickets, scrub, hill slopes, valleys, grasslands, meadows, streamsides, wet sandy land, alluvium, fields, roadsides; at eleations up to 4,200 metres[
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