Friday, June 26, 2015

Crownvetch - Securigera varia - Coronille variée

Today we have yet another introduced species in the family Fabaceae (legume family), this time introduced not as a fodder crop or an ornamental, but for ecosystem management: Securigera varia (aka Coronilla varia, crownvetch) has been introduced to North America primarily as an erosion control plant [1,2,3,4,5,6]. Securigera varia is suitable for this purpose because it spreads rapidly (both through seeding and through vegetative propagation by root spreading) and forms a dense root system [1,2,3,5]. Like many members of the Fabaceae, Securigera varia is a nitrogen-fixing plant [2,4,5,6].

Securigera varia inflorescence
Since its introduction to North America in the 1950s, Securigera varia has spread across much of the continent (US range map here, Canada range map here). Unfortunately, those traits which make Securigera varia a suitable erosion control plant can also make it a problematic invasive plant [1,2,3,5,6]. This plant will tend to squeeze out other plants, disrupting ecosystem functioning [1,2,3,4,5,6].

Securigera varia foliage resembles that of Vicia cracca (cow vetch):

Securigera varia foliage

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