Tufted Vetch(redirected from Cow vetch)
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(Vicia cracca), a perennial herbaceous plant of the genus Vicia of the family Fabaceae. The tall, branched stem is up to 1.5 m high. The paripinnately compound leaves have five to 20 pairs of linear or oblong-ovate leaflets, which have apical tendrils that cling to surrounding herbs. The flowers, which range in color from blue-violet to light-blue (rarely white), are in multiflorous racemose inflorescences. The fruit is a bean with four to eight seeds.
Tufted vetch grows in Eurasia, North Africa, and, as an import, in North America. It is found almost everywhere in the USSR but mainly in the forest and forest-steppe zones. It grows on meadows, among shrubs, along forest edges, in cleared forests, and near dwellings; it sometimes grows as a weed among grain crops. Tufted vetch is a valuable fodder grass, readily eaten by livestock as pasturage and hay. The plant is a nectar-bearer. The bitter taste of its seeds is caused by the presence of the glycoside vicianin.