Botanical Name: Vicia caroliniana
Species: V. caroliniana
*Vicia hugeri Small
*Cracca caroliniana (Walter) Alefeld
*Vicia parviflora Michaux
Common Names: Carolina vetch, or Carolina wood vetch
Other Names: Wood Vetch, Carolina Vetch
Habitat: Vicia caroliniana is native to the United States, V. caroliniana is now found throughout the eastern half of the country, from Texas east to Florida and north to New York and Minnesota. It is also found in Ontario, Canada. It grows on acid soils on rocky slopes, rocky woods, ridges, streambanks.
Description: Vicia caroliniana perennial, herbaceous vine growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a medium rate. The sparsely pubescent to glabrous stems climb. The alternate, finely pubescent compound leaves usually have 5-9 pairs of elliptic-oblong or oblong-lanceolate leaflets per leaf. The leaflets are approximately 0.8-2cm long, rounded and mucronate, with approximately 5-7 lateral veins on each side. The apical-most petiolule is modified at its tip as a simple or branched tendril. Lanceolate or lanceolate-sagittate stipules are present and entire. The leaves of Vicia caroliniana are reported to remain green through the winter in central and southern Ohio. Vicia caroliniana is a root-nodule forming legume (nitrogen fixing) that is part of a large group of legumes that are capable of cross-inoculating when grown together.
The racemes are axillary, have 7-20 flowers each, and are often shorter than the subtending leaves. The flowers are often borne on one side of the peduncle. The regular or almost regular calyx is villous, with a tube 1.8-2.5mm long and nearly equal triangular calyx lobes 0.5-1mm long. The corolla is pale purple or white, the tip of the keel petal blue, with the banner petal 8-12mm long. The styles are pubescent or villous at the apex, and the 10 stamens are diadelphous (in a group of 9 plus a single 10th stamen) and “terminate obliquely”. The anthers are yellow-orange.
Flowering Time: April – July .
Pollinator: Nothing was found about pollination of the species, however the specialized papilionaceous corolla typical of the subfamily suggests insect or specifically bee pollination. The Appalachian Grizzled Skipper, an endangered lepidopteran in New Jersey, has been reported to feed on the nectar of V. caroliniana
Fruits: A narrow stipitate legume, 1.5-3cm long, with 5-8 seeds/fruit.
Seed : The compressed or subglobose seed is 3-4mm in diameter. The attachment scar, found at the margin of the seed, extends “three-fourths around the circumference”.
An attractive perennial, herbaceous vine generally sprawling, occasionally climbing stems with tendrillate leaf tips. Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) to partial shade (direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours). There is some suggestion that it can take deep shade but we have been unable to confirm this. Soil Drainage: moist and well-drained, occasionally Dry. Flower Color: Pink, White. Flower Bloom Time: Spring. Flower Description: Light pinkish white, pea-like flowers appear in spring. This plant has an extreme flammability rating. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form – tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. Herbaceous. Growth habit is a single or multiple shooting vine from a crown.
In the US, the Cherokee use Carolina wood vetch for a variety of medicinal purposes. It is used for back pains, local pains, to toughen muscles, for muscular cramps, twitching and is rubbed on stomach cramps. They also use a compound for rheumatism, for an affliction called “blacks”, and it is taken for wind before a ball game (Hamel and Chiltoskey 1975 Cherokee Plants and Their Uses). An infusion is used for muscle pain, in that it is rubbed on scratches made over the location of the pain. An infusion is also taken as an emetic. It is also used internally with Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium ssp. obtusifolium for rheumatism.
Invertebrates shelter: beneficial for insects and other arthropods. Nectary: provides nectar or pollen for beneficial insects [1-2]. Host plant for Northern Cloudywing butterfly. Seeds may be eaten by songbirds. Nitrogen Fixer. Dynamic accumulator.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.