Vicia pulchella

Sweetclover Vetch - Vicia pulchella
Sawyers Peak Trail
Black Range
New Mexico, USA
August 25, 2014

On the 25th of August 2014, we found a patch of Sweetclover Vetch (aka Sweet Vetch), Vicia pulchella, along the Black Range Crest Trail between NM-152 and Sawyers Peak.  Like many vetches, it is trailing and spreading - a mass of plant - with tendrils which allow it to attach to objects, often itself.  The species was first described by Carl Sigismund Kunth from a specimen collected by Alexander von Humboldt (one of my “heroes”) and Aimé Bonpland on their epic journey through the Americas.  Descriptions of the species from that trip are often attributed as “Humboldt, Bonpland, & Kunth”.  Joseph Stieler painted the portrait of Humboldt, shown right, in 1843.

C. R. Gunn (USDA Technical Bulletin 1601, published in 1979) considered this species to be the most common and widespread native American vetch.  In the December 2014 article, entitled “Overview of Vicia (Fabaceae) of Mexico”, Billie L. Turner provides an excellent overview of the vetches of Mexico, and by extension - in many cases - New Mexico.

Within the United States, this species has a very limited range, as shown in the map to the right.  The light green color means that the species is native and not rare in the county indicated.  Its range extends southward to at least southern Mexico (at 8,000’ in the woods of Oaxaca, for instance) and parts of Central America.

Hillsboro Peak Trail, Black Range - July 10, 2019

© Robert Barnes 2018-2023