Abacosa americana Alef.
Lathyrus diffusus G.Don
Lathyrus dissitifolius Nutt.
Lathyrus linearis Nutt.
Orobus diffusus Nutt.
Vicia acicularis Greene
Vicia caespitosa A.Nelson
Vicia californica Greene
Vicia callianthema Greene
Vicia copelandii Eastw.
Vicia durbrowii Eastw.
Vicia hypolasia Greene
Vicia oregana Nutt.
Vicia perangusta Greene
Vicia pumila A.Heller
Vicia trifida D.Dietr.
Vicia vexillaris Greene
Vicia washingtonensis Suksd.
Common Name: American Vetch
Vicia americana is a herbaceous perennial plant with a stem that scrambles over the ground or climbs into surrounding vegetation where it attaches itself by means of tendrils. It can grow up to 75cm tall, spreading by means of creeping rhizomes to form a cluster of growth[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It has been used in soil restoration projects[
N. America - Alaska to Quebec, south to California, northern Mexico, Texas and Virginia
Damp or gravelly slopes, thickets and meadows[
]. Found in a wide variety of habitats including moist to dry areas, swampy woods and borders, mixed forests, and clearings[
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Vicia americana has a wide natural range from the cold temperate regions of Alaska to the warm temperate or even subtropical regions in southwestern N. America. It grows in areas where the mean annual rainfall can be as low as 250mm or as high as 1,250mm[
Species in this genus generally succeed in any well-drained soil in a sunny position if the soil is reliably moist throughout the growing season, otherwise they are best grown in semi-shade[
]. The plant grows on sandy, clayey, medium-textured soils in the wild, though it is usually more abundant in deep porous loams that are rich in organic matter. Soils vary from acidic to moderately basic and are sometimes moderately saline[
]. The plant is strongly drought resistant due to its moderate to deeply branched taproot system which reaches a maximum depth of about 100cm[
Top-growth of the plant is killed by fire, but the rhizomes usually survive and resprout[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Young shoots - cooked[
The tender seeds are eaten by the N. American Indians[
]. Both the mature seeds and the immature seedpods can be used[
]. The pod is about 3cm long and contains 4 - 7 seeds[
The leaves have been rubbed in the hands and applied to spider bites[
]. An infusion of the crushed leaves have been used as a bath for treating soreness[
An infusion of the plant has been used as an eyewash[
An infusion of the leaves has been used by women as a love medicine[
The plant may be useful for revegetating open or depleted trembling aspen game rangelands in Utah including burned over or thinned conifer areas. It is also useful for revegetating coal-mined lands, roadsides, and in critical-site stabilization and beautification. It has been successfully planted in disturbed alpine rangelands in the western United States[
The plant can be used as a minor component of restoration seed mixtures. The climbing nature of this plant should be
considered - sowing it in combination with more upright growing species will ensure a climbing matrix to support the vetch[
The stout roots have been used for tying[
Seed - sown without treatment it will usually germinate in about 14 days. Germination time can be reduced, although overall germination rates will not be improved, by scarifying the seed before sowing[
]. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen.