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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Vetch flowers

Vetch flowers

Another member of the legume, or pea, family (see previous post) is vetch. Vetch flowers are small, and the plant isn't nearly as large as kudzu (see previous post). But the plants do have root nodules, where there are bacteria that are able to take Nitrogen, a gas which we can't put to use with our own body chemistry, and make it available to vetch, and then, when vetch is eaten, to other living things.

Vetch will climb over other plants, and up man-made objects. On a recent trip to a nearby town, my wife and I recognized it by the little patches of blue in fields, on in bushes. There are many varieties of vetch, and I am not certain which one this is. Some species are not native to North America, and some are.

One definition of a weed is a plant growing where you don't want it to. Vetch can be a weed, by this definition. It can also be useful as cattle forage, or as a way to build up the soil.

Vetch is the name of Ged's best friend, in Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea. (See here, here, and here for previous posts on that book.)

After a Google search, and about 20 links, I have concluded that there probably isn't a really good general web page on this plant. There should be.

More on kudzu: a report says that an extract of kudzu can cause people to cut back on alcohol consumption.

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