Thursday, February 1, 2024

Fourleaf Vetch - Vicia acutifolia


Fourleaf vetch (Vicia acutifolia) is a member of the bean family (Fabaceae) that occurs widely throughout peninsular Florida and much of the Panhandle in a wide variety of wet to moist open habitats such as pond and depressional wetland edges.  It's overall range is mostly confined to Florida, though it extends along the coastal counties of Georgia and South Carolina.  It is a perennial that dies back in the late fall and reemerges again in winter.  Here in central Florida it is present yearround.  

As a whole, vetches are sprawling herbaceous plants and fourleaf vetch is no exception.  Its thin stems can extend up to 3 feet from the main stem.  The narrow leaves that come to a point at the end are bipinnate and alternate along the stem.  They are deciduous for a brief time from late fall to early winter.  

Flowering mostly occurs from early January through May though some flowers can occur in other months - especially in South Florida.  The blooms are white to light lavender with a decided deep lavender spot in the throat.  The shape is typical for members of the bean family and they are arranged as a raceme along the axils of the stems.  Each flower is about 1/4 inch long.  

Legumes in general are widely used host plants for a variety of the smaller sulfur butterflies and some of the skippers. Fourleaf vetch might serve as a host for several of these, but it is reported to be used by the barred  yellow.  The flowers are likely pollinated by small bees; as are many members of the legume family. This sprawling perennial can cover over diminutive plants in the habitats it occurs in, but for the most part it does no real harm to the grasses such as maindencane and sawgrass that it often uses for support.  It can be easily grown from the ripe seed that is produced in the 1-inch narrow pods that it produces from late winter to early summer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.