Crown vetch is not actually a true vetch. Crown vetch is an invasive member of the pea family. It was originally brought to North America from Eurasia and North Africa and used as an ornamental plant and for erosion control. Its creeping growth and ability to provide dense growth, by spreading through rhizomes, makes it well adapted for road bank stabilization. However these same factors are what makes this plant highly invasive. The fruit of the crown vetch are pods which are about 2 inches long and contain approximately 12 seeds in each. Crown vetch provides excellent forage for many different types of wild animals including deer, turkey, pheasants, and rabbits. For this reason some people have considered using it as forage in livestock pastures. While it is comparable to other forms of grass legume pastures crown vetch can be toxic to horses. Nitroglycosides in the plants can cause impaired growth, paralysis or even death in horses that consume large amounts.
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