South Dakota Native Plant Research
Fabaceae : Vicia americana

Fabaceae : Vicia americana


Download Seeds (91 KB)

Download Seedlings (586 KB)

Download Mature plant (2.3 MB)

Download Flowers (1.0 MB)

Download Fruit (585 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

American vetch

Native American Name

Lakota: tȟasúsu


Vicia americana is a rhizomatous, perennial herb, the stems sprawling to climbing, 20-100 cm long and smooth to having a sparse covering of hairs . The alternate leaves are compound pinnate with 4 to 8 pairs of elliptical to linear leaflets 10-38 mm long , a pair of stipules ~8 mm long, and with a tendril at the end of the leaf. The inflorescences are racemes in the axils of the upper leaves. The peduncles are well developed with 3-10 flowers. The calyx forms a tube 3.5-5.5 mm long with unequal teeth, the upper short and broad the lower narrower and pointed, 1.2-4 mm long. The papilionaceous corolla is blue to purple, rarely white. The banner is 12-25 mm long and the wings and keel shorter. The fruit is a legume, 2.5-3.5 cm long with 2-14 seeds. American vetch blooms from May to July in a variety of dry, open to moist, shaded habitats; mixed grass prairie, sagebrush steppe, meadows, pine forest, and deciduous woodlands throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

American vetch has showy flowers and makes a nice addition to a native plant garden, attracting native bees and butterflies. It needs support to really be seen and do well and can be planted with grasses for support.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect brown seed pods in June into August.

Germination: Direct sow American vetch in the fall. The seed will germinate in approximately 14 days.

Soils: Prefers sandy and loamy well drained soils. Preforms poorly in clay soils.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Water: Moist to mesic.

Fabaceae : Vicia americana