Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday on Thursday

I want to show you some Vetches and other plants with clover-like flowers.  There are many and I don't have pictures of all of them.  They are in the pea or bean family, Fabaceae or Leguminosae .  This first one is Crown Vetch, Coronilla varia.  The flowers are bicoloured in shades of white and pink.  This plant is widespread in our area.  It is usually planted on steep hillsides along highways because of it's root system, which grows into a sturdy mat that holds the plant and surrounding soil in place.

The leaves are divided into small, paired leaflets.   

Another vetch-like plant in the pea family is Yellow Sweet Clover, Melilotus officinalis.  It is a tall plant with long, tapering spikes of yellow pea-like flowers.

This plant grows in just about any soil, but it loves alkaline soils the best.  It is mainly grown for agricultural purposes, even though it contains a toxin that can turn into an anticoagulant if it gets moldy.  This can cause internal bleeding or even death in cattle.  It must, therefore, be properly dried and cured.   It is also a good source of nectar for bees.

A closely related plant is the White Sweet Clover, Melilotus alba.

The last clover-like plant I have to show you is the Birdsfoot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus.  This is an herbaceous perennial.  Its flowers develop into small pea-like pods.  The name comes from these seed pods when they are on the stem.  They have five leaves, with three at the top of the stem and two more at the base.  This is where the word trefoil comes from.

This is an important forage plant, used in pastures, hay and silage.  It is also an important nectar source for insects.

Its lovely yellow flowers brighten up any roadside or pasture.

1 comment:

Wacky Woman said...

More beauties!