T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Coronilla varia (Crown vetch)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Loteae
Genus: Coronilla
Species: C. varia
Binomial name: Coronilla varia
Synonyms: Securigera varia, Lassen subsp. orientalis
Common names: Crown vetch, Trailing crown vetch, Purple crown vetch, Rosy flowered crown vetch, Hive vine

Coronilla varia is native to Africa, Asia and Europe. It is a tough, perennial, aggressive, spreading, low-growing legume vine with creeping stems that may reach 0.6-2 metres.
It can grow up to a metre tall and from early summer to late autumn it bears small clusters of 15mm pea-like, pink to white flowers at the end of extended stalks.
It has compound leaves bearing 15 to 25 leaflets.
After flowering it develops narrow, leathery seed pods which may be up to 8cm long.

The following three characteristics together distinguish Coronilla varia from other legumes: its compound leaves have an odd number of leaflets, the leaves and flower stalks arise from the main stem, and the flowers occur in a radiating umbel.

In the United States and Canada it was commonly used for erosion control, roadside planting and soil rehabilitation because of its deep, tenacious roots and thick leaves provide excellent erosion control. It has now become an invasive species in many states of the US. It is very hard to eradicate once established.
It is listed in the Global invasive species database. Coronilla varia is a serious threat to many natural areas because of its prolific seeding ability and rapid rate of vegetative spread via its rhizomes, which can create dense, single-species stands.

Coronilla varia can be poisonous to single stomached animals if ingested in large quantities because of the presence of nitroglycosides. If consumed in large amounts, it can cause slow growth, paralysis, or even death.

A hillside with Coronilla varia in the Lake Pearson area, Arthur’s Pass road.