The Weed Warrior: Tufted Vetch really wants to move in

Tufted Vetch, aka Bird Vetch, is a weed that is trying to establish itself locally, including on my acreage.

It has long weak stems that spread a mat of leafless stems, leafy branches and leafless flowering branches across the ground, or climb- using the tendrils at the end of each leafy branch.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the leaves of Tufted Vetch grow in 8-12 alternate pairs along opposite sides of some branches that grow in a spiral from the leafless stems; its bluish-purple flowers grow in groups of up to 30 along one side of the remaining leafless branches; and, Tufted Vetch’s flattened brown pea-like seedpods contain up to eight rounded seeds — each marked with a long white or reddish-brown scar.

It can spread by seed or root nodes.

The Canadian Encyclopedia says there are about 150 species of Vetch in the world, three native to Canada and nine foreign species have been brought here, including ones like Tufted Vetch that some provinces consider to be significant weeds because they are not adapted well enough to our climate to make good livestock or wildlife forage, even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers Tufted Vetch to be highly palatable browse.

Ontario calls it a weed; Alberta considers Tufted Vetch an invasive species; Saskatchewan is observing Tufted Vetch but is not concerned yet; the B.C. Government considers Tufted Vetch to be an exotic species;

My hobby farmer friend, Ken Miller, thinks it is a noxious weed. What is your opinion of Tufted (Bird) Vetch?

I control it on my property, by gathering and garbage bagging all the flowers and most of the stems and leaves, then spraying a broadleaf herbicide, like Killex, on the remaining leaves and stems, to kill them and the roots.

Remember to wear protective gloves when handling weeds. Some of them have toxins.

Weed Warrior Frank

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