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Yellow Vigna Vigna luteola


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Yellow Vigna - habit and fruit
credit: Forest & Kim Starr/CCSA

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Alternate name: Wild Cowpea, Hairypod Cowpea

Family: Fabaceae, Pea view all from this family

Description This creeping or twining vine has hairy stems and leaves, and yellow pea flowers.
Habit: native or introduced, perennial vine or herb.
Height: stems to 6 ft (2 m) or more.
Leaf: alternate, trifoliate, long-stalked; 3 leaflets broadly ovate to linear-lanceolate, pointed, 1-4 in (2.5-10 cm) long, to 2 in (5 cm) wide.
Flower: yellow, 0.75 in (2 cm) long; in stalked cluster of 2-11 flowers.
Fruit: curved pod, hairy, to 2.5 in (6 cm) long or more.

Flower March to November, or year-round in Florida and Texas.

Habitat Wet coastal sites; salt-tolerant; pastures, levees, ridges, swamp margins, tidal flats, marshes, roadsides; also cultivated for natural landscapes, landscape restorations, butterfly gardens.

Range The native range of this plant is obscure. Some authorities believe it is native to coastal southeastern U.S., in Pennsylvania and from Virginia south to Florida, west to Texas; introduced and naturalized in New York. Other sources indicate that the plant was introduced, possibly to New Orleans in early 1700s, and naturalized from there.

Discussion Also called cow pea, hairypod cow pea, wild cow pea, deer pea, Dalrymple vigna. Multiple latin names have been used for this plant. Imperiled in Georgia and North Carolina. This plant is a larval host for cassius blue, gray hairstreak, long-tailed skipper, and dorantes skipper butterflies.