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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Scientific Name: Vicia cracca L.

Other Names: vesce jargeau, Bird vetch, jargeau, vesce multiflore, petits-oiseaux

Family: Legume or Bean Family (Leguminosae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by spreading underground root-stocks.

Habitat: Tufted vetch occurs throughout Ontario in cultivated fields, pastures, waste places, roadsides and gardens.


  • Mostly vegetative shoots from underground root-stocks, some seedlings
  • Both have composite leaves
  • Both have stems


  • 40 cm- 2 m (16-80 in.) long
  • Weak
  • Wiry
  • Trailing on the ground or climbing on nearby objects


  • Alternate (1 per node)
  • Pinnately compound with 8 to 12 pairs of bristle-tipped leaflets and branching tendrils at the end (the plant climbing by means of these tendrils)


  • Bluish-purple
  • Pea-like
  • About 12 mm (1/2 in.) long
  • Often 30 or more crowed together on one side of a long bare stalk
  • Seedpods:
    • Pea-like
    • 10-25 mm (2/5-1 in.) long
    • 4-6 mm (1/6-1/4 in.) wide
    • Partly flattened
    • Light brown
    • Containing 2 to 8 seeds
  • Seeds:
    • Oval
    • Reddish-brown
    • 2.5-3 mm (1/10-1/8 in.) across
    • Marked with a prominent, long, whitish or reddish-brown scar
  • Flowers from early June to late autumn

Often Confused With
Clover (It is distinguished by its spreading underground rootstalks, compound leaves with 8 to 12 pairs of leaflets and branching tendrils, many flowers clustered on one side of a long stalk, and its flattened, brownish seedpods containing up to 8 rounded seeds, each with a scar extending ¼ to 1/3 of the way around it.)

Tufted vetch

Tufted vetch

Tufted vetch. A. Base of plat. B. Top of flowering stem. C. 2 seedpods.Click to enlarge.