PULSE FAMILY - Leguminosae: Blue, Tufted, or Cow Vetch or Tare; Cat Peas; Tinegrass

Vicia Cracca

Flowers--Blue, later purple; 1/2 in. long, growing downward in 1-sided spike, 15 to 40 flowered; calyx oblique, small, with unequal teeth; corolla butterfly-shaped, consisting of standard, wings, and keel, all oblong; the first clawed, the second oblique, and adhering to the shorter keel; 10 stamens, 1 detached from other 9. Stem: Slender, weak, climbing or trailing, downy, 2 to 4 ft. long. Leaves: Tendril bearing, divided into 18 to 24 thin, narrow, oblong leaflets. Fruit: A smooth pod 1 in. long or less, 5 to 8 seeded.

Preferred Habitat--Dry soil, fields, waste land.

Flowering Season--June-August.

Distribution--United States from New Jersey, Kentucky, and Iowa northward and northwestward. Europe and Asia.

Dry fields blued with the bright blossoms of the Tufted Vetch, and roadsides and thickets where the angular vine sends forth vivid patches of color, resound with the music of happy bees. Although the parts of the flower fit closely together, they are elastic, and opening with the energetic visitor's weight and movement give ready access to the nectary. On his departure they resume their original position, to protect both nectar and pollen from rain and pilferers whose bodies are not perfectly adapted to further the flower's cross-fertilization. The common bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) plays a mean trick, all too frequently, when he bites a hole at the base of the blossom, not only gaining easy access to the sweets for himself, but opening the way for others less intelligent than he, but quite ready to profit by his mischief, and so defeat nature's plan. Doctor Ogle observed that the same bee always acts in the same manner, one sucking the nectar legitimately, another always biting a hole to obtain it surreptitiously, the natural inference, of course, being that some bees, like small boys, are naturally depraved.