Bird Vetch, a pretty but noxious weed

Watch out for a nasty invasive weed called Bird Vetch. Its pretty, blue to purple flowers are deceptively attractive. The tendrils at the tip of the plant help it to climb over other plants, growing over everything, even alders and willows. Seward has small, localized infestations, but you may have noticed this plant smothering other plants in large patches along the highway. The leaflets are narrow, and as a member of the Pea family, it produces small pea pods. A similar plant, the native Beach Pea, has larger flowers, wider leaflets, larger seed pods, and does not climb or create dense infestations.

Small infestations of Bird Vetch can be controlled by hand pulling over several years, as the seeds remain viable for 4 to 6 years or longer. Larger infestations should be mowed before the seeds are formed, preferably in late June, followed by an application of herbicide if necessary.

Bird Vetch is considered a noxious weed, which means it is so bad, it is prohibited to import, transport, buy, sell, or distribute it within the state of Alaska.

Please take time to pull this plant if you have it on your property. Be careful to put all of the plant, including its seed pods, completely inside a sturdy plastic garbage bag so it does not escape. Tie the bag tightly, and dispose in the trash.


There is more information on the internet. Check this link http://www.plants.alaska.gov/invasives/index.htm, and click on “Terrestrial Weed Identification Field Guide”.

submitted by Carol Griswold





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  2. Thank you for writing this informative article with good photos of the invasive and native species!