Texas Wildflowers: Vicia villosa, vetch
I feel fairly certain that this is Vicia villosa, though I am up for someone informing me otherwise. It was growing with the pinkroot and clematis near the Big Thicket.
While there are native vetches, this one is a non-native introduced from Europe and has now naturalized across a lot of the U.S. One website states it was introduced as a forage crop for livestock while another states that the seedpods are poisonous to cattle, so your guess is as good as mine! A few butterflies enjoy using vetch (this one and others) as a host plant such as the silvery blue and the orange sulphur.
If you are interested in growing vetch you might want to try a native like Vicia americana instead of non-native weedy varieties. Sometimes the non-natives are beautiful but when they start out competing with natives it’s time to re-think our use of them in gardens and crops. Another option is the Louisiana vetch, Vicia ludoviciana
I like chronicling the non-natives as well so we can draw attention those. Sometimes you might think everything is native or not doing any harm but the non-natives are proliferating in many natural areas and causing some nasty damage. It will only get worse as the climate changes and as we intermingle our plants throughout the world. There are plenty of native North American species that are causing damage in other parts of the world, so it isn’t just a problem here.
+Illinois wildflower website on Vicia villosa
+Wildflower.org on Vicia ludoviciana
+FAO website on Vicia villosa
These are lovely! I got a bag of SW Florida wildflower mix from the Botanical gardens. I wonder if the people who own the empty lot across the street would mind if I went over and sprinkled some, just to see what might come up? 😉
I bet it would be fun! That’s called guerilla gardening! 😉
I have only seen one milk vetch pop up in our valley so far. Our summer is indeed lagging behind. The spring is just popping up for us as there is still snow up on the local ridgelines.