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Tufted Vetch

Vicia cracca

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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, Crown Vetch, 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, 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:
2 metres tall
Ditches, fens, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, scrub, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

Purple, 5 petals
Violet-coloured one-sided spikes of tube-shaped flowers.
A brown, flattened, hairless, pea-like pod, up to 2.5cm in length. Each pod contains 2 to 8, roundish or oval seeds.
The leaves are compound and exist in pairs of 8 to 12 leaflets. The leaflets are tipped with bristle. Branched tendrils.
Other Names:
Bird Vetch, Blue Vetch, Boreal Vetch, Cow Vetch.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Vicia cracca, also known as Tufted Vetch or Cow Vetch, is a perennial climbing vine that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Fabaceae family and is known for its small, purple, pea-like flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The leaves are compound and the plant has a characteristic tendril, which it uses to climb on other plants or structures. It is commonly found in woodlands, hedgerows, and other wild areas. This plant is often cultivated as a forage crop, and it's a valuable source of protein and minerals for livestock. It is also used as a green manure crop to improve soil fertility. It is not commonly used for medicinal or other practical purposes, and there is little scientific research on its potential benefits. It is often considered a weed and is often removed from cultivated areas.


Tufted Vetch, also known by its scientific name Vicia cracca, is a highly beneficial plant species that is found in many parts of the world. This plant is a member of the legume family and is prized for its ability to improve soil health, attract pollinators, and provide food for wildlife.

One of the key features of Tufted Vetch is its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth, and most plants rely on the availability of nitrogen in the soil to survive. However, some plant species have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil, making it available for other plants to use. This is where Tufted Vetch comes in, as it can significantly improve the quality of the soil by fixing nitrogen.

Another benefit of Tufted Vetch is its attractive blue and purple flowers, which bloom from June to September. These flowers are very popular with pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and moths, and can help to support the health of local ecosystems. Additionally, the seeds produced by Tufted Vetch are a valuable food source for birds and small mammals.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Tufted Vetch is also a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, it can be used as a cover crop, helping to prevent soil erosion and suppressing weeds. It can also be used as a green manure crop, providing organic matter and improving soil structure. Additionally, Tufted Vetch can be used as a forage crop for livestock, providing high-quality protein and fiber.

Overall, Tufted Vetch is a highly beneficial plant species that is easy to grow and maintain. Its ability to improve soil health, attract pollinators, and provide food for wildlife make it an essential component of any sustainable ecosystem. Whether you're a farmer, gardener, or simply someone looking to support local wildlife, Tufted Vetch is definitely worth considering.

Growing Tufted Vetch is relatively easy, as it is adaptable to a wide range of soils and growing conditions. This plant is often used in combination with other crops, such as cereal grains, to provide additional benefits and improve soil health. It can be sown directly into the ground, either in the spring or autumn, and does not require any special care or attention.

However, it is important to be aware of some of the potential drawbacks of Tufted Vetch. For example, this plant can be invasive in some areas, especially in areas with a mild climate. This can be a problem for other plants, as Tufted Vetch can outcompete them for resources such as water and nutrients.

In order to avoid these potential problems, it is important to take steps to manage Tufted Vetch effectively. This may include monitoring its growth and ensuring that it does not spread into areas where it is not wanted. In addition, it may be necessary to control the plant by mowing or pulling it up, especially in areas where it is considered invasive.

Despite these potential drawbacks, Tufted Vetch remains a highly beneficial plant species that can provide many benefits to the environment and to local ecosystems. Whether you're looking to improve soil health, attract pollinators, or provide food for wildlife, this plant is definitely worth considering. With proper management, it can be a valuable addition to any sustainable landscape.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Tufted Vetch has also been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. The roots, leaves, and seeds of this plant have been used to treat a variety of conditions, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and skin conditions.

In traditional medicine, Tufted Vetch has been used as a expectorant to treat coughs and bronchitis, as well as a diuretic to treat urinary problems. The plant has also been used to treat digestive issues, such as constipation and indigestion, and to improve liver function. Additionally, the leaves of Tufted Vetch have been used topically to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

It's important to note that while Tufted Vetch has a long history of use in traditional medicine, its effectiveness as a medicinal plant has not been fully confirmed by scientific research. Additionally, the use of plants for medicinal purposes should always be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider, as some plants can be toxic if used improperly.

Despite its potential medicinal benefits, the primary value of Tufted Vetch lies in its ability to improve soil health and support local ecosystems. Whether you're looking to create a sustainable landscape, support pollinators, or treat medical conditions, Tufted Vetch is a versatile and valuable plant species that is definitely worth considering.


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