Friday, May 6, 2016

Crown Vetch

I seem to suddenly have an abundance of crown vetch (Coronilla varia) in the front garden. This is a low groundcover vine in the pea family, that is used for erosion control and animal forage. It spreads rapidly and is impossible to control or eliminate.

I've noticed it in huge thick mats in the untended meadow, and now I have it in my garden. It overtakes by seed and vegetatively. A few seeds could have blown in, and then runners spread it all over.

The very fine, spindly vines are completely entwined around and in and over my garden plants along the front walk. They simply surround everything they touch.

The runners don't grow upward, they scramble along the ground making a mat. I can see why crown vetch is good at erosion control, but that talent isn't really appreciated as it annihilates the slowly emerging shoots of an amsonia clump, smothers the brittle woody bearberry branches and swallows allium stalks trying to come up in the spring soil.

You can't pull it up. The filaments of tender vines just break into pieces. If you have an open field you can mow it and glyphosate it, but most sources say that usually gets you nowhere. In a garden bed tangled among all my plants, it can't be eradicated at all.

The garden along the front walk is the furthest from the meadow. My other gardens, closer to the edge of the meadow, don't have crown vetch all over them. Yet.

Is it just a matter of time?


  1. We have pulled and pulled which seems to have slowed the advance. We found you have to get it pulled before those little seed pods dry and split.

    1. I try pulling, and that works if I can get at the base of it. But I can't even get to it where it is growing right out of the crown of an amsonia, or where it is wrapped around the even finer filaments of small alliums coming up. I hope yours is under control -- and that mine doesn't get worse!!