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Published In: Svensk Botanisk Tidskrift 83: 86. 1989. (Svensk Bot. Tidskr.) Name publication detail
 

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/29/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced

 

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Securigera varia (L.) Lassen (crown vetch)

Coronilla varia L.

Pl. 406 g–i; Map 1801

Plants perennial herbs, with a woody taproot below a short, branched caudex. Stems 30–120 cm long, spreading to loosely ascending or occasionally ascending, branched, often forming loose mats or mounds, angled or ridged, unarmed, glabrous or sparsely pubescent with spreading hairs. Leaves alternate, odd-pinnately compound with 9–25 leaflets, sessile or nearly so, the rachis 5–12 cm long. Stipules 1–4 mm long, narrowly lanceolate to narrowly oblong or oblong-triangular, usually reflexed, often with a green central stripe and pale margins, rounded to bluntly or sharply pointed at the sometimes darkened tip, the margins entire or with a few minute teeth (rarely with a single basal lobe); stipels absent. Leaflets 6–25 mm long, 2.5–9.0(–12.0) mm wide, the terminal leaflet usually narrowly oblanceolate to oblong-oblanceolate, the lateral leaflets oblong to oblong-oblanceolate, the shortest ones sometimes oblong-obovate, rounded or angled at the base, rounded to truncate or broadly and bluntly pointed at the tip, the midvein extended as a minute, sharp point at the very tip, the margins entire, the surfaces glabrous, the upper surface usually with microscopic, dark purple gland-dots (visible only under magnification), the undersurface often purplish-tinged or -mottled. Inflorescences axillary, umbellate to loosely headlike clusters of (5–)10–15(–20) flowers, the stalk 5–15 cm long, usually with sparse, short, spreading hairs, the tip with 1 bract per flower, these 0.5–1.0 mm long, linear to narrowly oblong or rarely forked apically, darkened at the tips, persistent, each flower with a stalk 3–7 mm long above the bract; bractlets absent. Calyces glabrous, the tube 1.0–1.5 mm long, broadly bell-shaped to hemispheric, more or less 2-lipped, the upper 2 lobes fused most of their length, 0.7–1.0 mm long, the unit broadly triangular with a forked tip, the lower 3 lobes 0.5–1.0 mm long, more or less similar, broadly triangular, the margins often thin and pale, glabrous or occasionally minutely and finely hairy, mostly in the sinuses between the lobes. Corollas papilionaceous, pink to purple, sometimes appearing bicolorous, the banner sometimes with a darker, small keel, the wings often lighter (sometimes nearly white), the keel dark purple toward the tip, the banner 9–13 mm long, 5–8 mm wide, the expanded portion broadly ovate, abruptly arched upward from below the midpoint, the wings 9–15 mm long, 4–5 mm wide, oblong, the keel 10–12 mm long, 2–4 mm wide, boat-shaped, fused to the tip, abruptly curved upward near the midpoint, narrowed or tapered to a bluntly pointed tip. Stamens 10, all of similar lengths, 9 of the filaments fused and 1 usually shorter filament free, the fused portion 6–7 mm long, the free portion 3–4 mm long, curved upward, the anthers small, attached at the base, yellow. Ovary 5–7 mm long, the style 5–6 mm long, slender, curved upward, glabrous, the stigma small and terminal. Fruits loments, 2–6 cm long, 1.5–2.2 mm wide, narrowly oblong to more commonly linear, short-stalked, tapered to a slender, beaked tip, bluntly 4(5)-angled, only very slightly constricted between the seeds, green to straw-colored or tan, glabrous, breaking apart at maturity into 3–12, 1-seeded segments, these indehiscent or sometimes dehiscing more or less longitudinally with age. Seeds 3–4 mm long, 0.9–1.5 mm wide, more or less cylindric (bluntly rectangular in outline), the surface reddish brown, smooth, dull. 2n=24. May–August.

Introduced, scattered nearly throughout the state, though as yet uncommon or absent from portions of the Glaciated Plains and Mississippi Lowlands Divisions (native of Europe, Asia; introduced nearly throughout the U.S. [including Hawaii] and Canada). Banks of streams and rivers, margins of ponds and lakes, glades, and openings of mesic to dry upland forests; also pastures, old fields, old strip mines, railroads, roadsides, and open, disturbed areas.

Securigera varia is identified by the sprawling habit, pinnately compound leaves, umbellate inflorescence of pinkish flowers on a long stalk, and narrow, linear loments that break up into segments. Until recently, crown vetch was planted widely for erosion control, especially along highways following construction work. This practice has been discouraged, because although the plants form dense masses covering the ground, on steep slopes they frequently hide rather than eliminate soil erosion. Additionally, there have been concerns about the aggressive spread of the species into neighboring native plant communities, particularly along drainages. Invasive populations have been recorded in side-drainages of Ozark streams and rivers at points some 5 kilometers from the nearest road crossing.

Securigera varia provides cover for small mammals and birds. It is eaten by animals and has sometimes been cultivated for fodder. However, there are concerns about low-level toxicity to livestock from nitrotoxins (Burrows and Tyrl, 2001).

 


 

 
 
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