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This introduced perennial vine is 3-6' long. It can climb adjacent vegetation or fencing by means of its twining tendrils, while in open areas it sprawls across the ground. The stems are hairless and strongly winged. Each alternate compound leaf consists of a single pair of leaflets and a winged petiole about 2" long. Between the leaflets is a branched tendril. The leaflets are up to 3" long and 1" across. They are narrowly ovate or oblong-ovate, smooth along the margins, and hairless.  Occasionally, short racemes of 4-10 flowers are produced from the axils of the leaves. Each flower is about ¾–1" across and has a typical pea-like structure, consisting of an upper standard and a lower keel that is enclosed by lateral petals. The 5 petals of this flower are purplish pink and become faded with age. The green calyx has 5 teeth that are often unequal in size. The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 2 months. There is no floral scent. Each flower is replaced by a hairless flattened seedpod that is about 2" long and ½" wide, containing several seeds inside. The seedpod is initially green, but gradually turns brown, at which time it splits open into curled segments to fling the seeds. The dark seeds are oblong-reniform in shape. The root system consists of a taproot and rhizomes. This plant can spread vegetatively or by reseeding itself. Cultivation


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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