Crown Vetch
Coronilla variaFabaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruitFruit
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • Trailing crownvetch
  • Securigera varia ssp. orientalis

The Plant:

  • A creeping, herbaceous perennial.

The Leaves:

  • alternate leaves
  • compound
  • paired leaflets
  • sessile leaflets
  • oblong

The Stem:

  • creeping

The Flowers:

  • Pink and white bicolored, bilaterally symmetrical pea-like flowers with five petals. Arranged in circular clusters. Blooms from June to August.

The Fruits:

  • a green pod, much like typical legumes

The Habitat:

  • roadsides
  • waste places


  • seeds are dispersed short distances by the plant when pods open
  • sometimes intentionally planted to combat soil erosion
  • creeping rhizomes

Key ID Features:

  • pods
  • paired leaflets
  • round inflorescence made up of dozens of pea-like flowers

Similar Species:

  • Many of the vetches (Vicia spp.) resemble Crown vetch, which can be distinguished by its lack of a terminal tendril and flowers that are arranged in a circular umbel, rather than the long racemes or small clusters of other vetches.


  • Planted as an agricultural cover crop and for erosion control along roadsides and steep banks. Crown-vetch can reproduce prolifically and crowd out native species within sunny areas, it is intolerant of deep shade.
  • On Nantucket, a well-established population with significant root structure and nearby seedlings was removed from a dirt road and roadside in the Sesachacha Heathlands (within one of Nantucket's Biodiversity Plots) in 2006. This species occurs on other parts of the island in native vegetation, typically near traveled places such as paths, but also several yards off roadside in natural areas. It sas repeatedly dispersed over spatial gaps.

Growth Form: Herb

Origin: Europe, Northern Africa, Southwest Asia

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Likely Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Not evaluated

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston