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Crown Vetch

Securigera varia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
4 metres tall
Beaches, ditches, fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
Crown Vetch produces dense, spherical clusters of delicate flowers with hues ranging from pink to purple or white. The flowers are arranged in a way that resembles small crowns, contributing to the plant's distinctive and visually appealing appearance.
Crown Vetch develops elongated, slender seed pods, each containing multiple seeds. These pods add interest to the plant's appearance as they mature, contributing to its reproductive cycle.
Crown Vetch features compound leaves composed of numerous small leaflets. The leaflets contribute to the plant's overall delicate and finely-textured appearance, forming a lush foliage that enhances its ornamental value.
Crown Vetch, when its leaves are crushed, emits a distinct and somewhat pungent odour. The fragrance is characteristic of the plant and adds a unique aspect to its overall sensory experience.
Other Names:
Axseed, Axwort, Hive Vine, Purple Crown Vetch, Rose Vetch, Rosy-flowered Crown Vetch, Trailing Crown Vetch.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Securigera varia, also known as Crown Vetch, is a perennial vine that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Fabaceae family and is known for its small, pink, pea-like flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. It is a hardy and fast-growing plant that can reach heights of up to 4 meters. It is commonly used as a ground cover, erosion control, and forage crop. It is also used in the restoration of disturbed areas, such as roadsides and strip mines. The plant can be invasive in some areas, and it is important to plant it in the appropriate location, as it can outcompete native plants. It is not commonly used for medicinal or other practical purposes, and there is little scientific research on its potential benefits.


Crown Vetch, also known as Securigera varia, is a trailing vine-like plant that can be used as a ground cover in gardens, parks, and other outdoor spaces. This plant is native to Europe and Asia but has been widely introduced in North America where it is now a popular choice for landscaping. Here are some reasons why Crown Vetch is a great option for your garden.

  1. Versatility: Crown Vetch can be used to cover slopes, banks, and erosion-prone areas. It is ideal for preventing soil erosion, stabilizing slopes, and reducing maintenance costs in large landscapes. Crown Vetch can also be used to form a dense and attractive ground cover under trees or along borders.

  2. Durability: Crown Vetch is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, making it a highly adaptable and hardy plant. It is drought-tolerant, tolerates salt, and is resistant to deer and rabbits. This makes it a great option for gardeners who live in areas with harsh weather conditions.

  3. Attractiveness: Crown Vetch is a beautiful plant that adds texture and color to gardens. Its delicate pink, white, or purple flowers bloom from late spring to early summer, adding a pop of color to your garden. The leaves of Crown Vetch are also attractive, with a glossy green appearance and a unique fan-like shape.

  4. Easy to grow: Crown Vetch is easy to establish and maintain, making it a great option for gardeners of all levels of experience. It can be planted from seeds or cuttings, and once established, it will spread rapidly and form a dense cover. It is also low-maintenance, requiring minimal pruning and watering.

  5. Nitrogen Fixation: Crown Vetch is a legume plant, which means it has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that other plants can use. This makes Crown Vetch an excellent option for improving soil fertility, especially in areas where soil is poor or depleted.

  6. Invasive Potential: While Crown Vetch can be an attractive and low-maintenance option for gardeners, it is important to note that it can also become invasive in some areas. This is because it spreads quickly and can quickly overtake other plants in the area, leading to the displacement of native species. Before planting Crown Vetch in your garden, it is important to research its invasive potential in your area and take measures to prevent its spread if necessary.

  7. Wildlife Habitat: Crown Vetch is not only attractive to gardeners but also to wildlife. The flowers of Crown Vetch are a source of nectar for pollinators, and the leaves provide cover and food for wildlife such as rabbits and birds. This makes Crown Vetch a great option for creating a wildlife-friendly garden.

  8. Intercropping: Crown Vetch can also be used in intercropping systems, where it is planted alongside other crops. The nitrogen-fixing properties of Crown Vetch can improve soil fertility and support the growth of other crops, leading to improved yields and reduced dependence on fertilizer. Intercropping can also provide a more sustainable and diverse agroecosystem, which can benefit the environment and local communities.

  9. Soil Erosion Control: Crown Vetch is a great option for controlling soil erosion, especially in areas prone to heavy rainfall or flash flooding. The dense and tangled roots of Crown Vetch can help to hold the soil in place, reducing runoff and preventing soil erosion. This makes Crown Vetch a popular choice for erosion control projects in parks, roadways, and other areas prone to soil erosion.

  10. Design Considerations: When incorporating Crown Vetch into your garden, it is important to consider its design potential. Crown Vetch can be used to create attractive borders, ground covers, and slopes, but it is also important to consider the impact of its growth on nearby plants and structures. Crown Vetch can grow rapidly and may need to be pruned regularly to maintain its desired shape and size.

In conclusion, Crown Vetch is a versatile plant with many benefits for gardeners, farmers, and the environment. Its nitrogen-fixing properties, durability, and attractive flowers make it a great option for improving soil fertility, controlling soil erosion, and creating attractive and low-maintenance landscapes. Before planting Crown Vetch in your garden, it is important to research its invasive potential, consider design considerations, and ensure that it is the right choice for your needs.

30 Captivating Crown Vetch Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Securigera varia, commonly known as Crown Vetch.
  2. Family: Fabaceae.
  3. Native Range: Native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa.
  4. Invasive Species: Classified as an invasive species in some regions due to its aggressive spreading nature.
  5. Erosion Control: Frequently used for erosion control on slopes and disturbed areas.
  6. Nitrogen Fixation: Possesses nitrogen-fixing nodules on its roots, enriching the soil with nitrogen.
  7. Flower Appearance: The flowers are arranged in dense, spherical clusters and can be pink, purple, or white.
  8. Foliage: Compound leaves with multiple small leaflets, giving the plant a delicate appearance.
  9. Wildlife Attraction: Attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies with its abundant nectar.
  10. Adaptability: Thrives in various soil types, including poor and disturbed soils.
  11. Growth Habit: Spreading, trailing stems that can form a dense ground cover.
  12. Height: Typically grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet.
  13. Biennial or Perennial: Crown Vetch can behave as either a biennial or perennial, depending on environmental conditions.
  14. Drought Tolerance: Exhibits tolerance to drought once established.
  15. Roadside Planting: Often used for roadside plantings due to its erosion control properties.
  16. Livestock Forage: Contains compounds that may make it unpalatable to some livestock, limiting its use as forage.
  17. Insect Resistance: Resistant to certain insect pests, contributing to its hardiness.
  18. Habitat: Found in a variety of habitats, from meadows to disturbed areas.
  19. Medicinal Uses: Traditional medicinal uses in some cultures for various ailments.
  20. Culinary Uses: Limited culinary uses, as it may contain compounds toxic to humans and animals.
  21. Seed Pods: Develops elongated, slender seed pods containing several seeds each.
  22. Seed Dispersal: Seeds are often spread by water, animals, or human activities.
  23. Tolerance to Mowing: Can tolerate occasional mowing but may recover slowly.
  24. Landscape Use: Sometimes used in landscaping for its ground cover and ornamental value.
  25. Rhizomatous Growth: Spreads through both seeds and rhizomes, aiding in its rapid colonization.
  26. Inhibits Other Plants: Can inhibit the growth of other plants through competition for resources.
  27. Distinctive Odor: Crushed leaves emit a distinct, somewhat unpleasant odor.
  28. Soil Stabilization: Besides erosion control, it is employed in stabilizing soil on construction sites.
  29. Beekeeping: Crown Vetch honey is produced by bees that forage on its nectar.
  30. Conservation Concerns: Despite its benefits, conservationists often monitor its spread to protect native ecosystems.


Crown Vetch filmed at Lytham St. Anne's in Lancashire on the 12th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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