E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Vicia americana Muhl. ex Willd.
American vetch
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Vanessa Robinson  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #88670)

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Distribution of Vicia americana
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a rhizome; stems mostly single, trailing or climbing, nearly glabrous to densely hairy, 15-100 cm long/tall.
Alternate, pinnately compound; leaflets 8 to 12 (18), linear to oval, blunt, notched, pointed, or few-toothed at the tip, 1-3.5 cm long, glabrous to hairy, thin to leathery with prominent parallel veins on lower surface; tendrils simple to branched, grasping; stipules deeply toothed, 3-10 mm long, crescent-shaped.
Inflorescence a loose, axillary, stalked raceme of 3 to 9 pea-like flowers, the racemes shorter than the subtending leaves; corollas bluish-purple to reddish-purple, 12-23 mm long; calyces 1/3 as long as the corollas, the 5 teeth to nearly 1/2 the length of the tube.
Pods, glabrous, 2.5-4 cm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic meadows, thickets and open forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in S two-thirds of BC, less frequent northward, absent from the Queen Charlotte Islands; N to SE AK and NT, E to PQ and NB and S to OH, KS, WV, NM and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Vicia americana

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 2 843 2500
Slope Gradient (%) -2 17 262
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 191 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BG(36), BWBS(408), CDF(18), CWH(58), ESSF(15), ICH(86), IDF(554), MS(77), PP(36), SBPS(73), SBS(509), SWB(21)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, transcontinental North American forb. Occurs on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils within boreal, temperate, and mesothermal climates; its occurrence decreases with elevation. Scattered in young­seral forests on water-shedding and water­receiving sites. Symbiotic with nitrogen-fixing organisms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Vicia americana var. americana Willd. [superfluous autonym]

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References