Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Crown Vetch
Coronilla varia

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Coronilla (kor-uh-NIL-uh) (Info)
Species: varia (VAR-ee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Securigera varia

One vendor has this plant for sale.

12 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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By Baa
Thumbnail #1 of Coronilla varia by Baa

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #2 of Coronilla varia by kennedyh

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Thumbnail #3 of Coronilla varia by kennedyh

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #4 of Coronilla varia by Jeff_Beck

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Thumbnail #6 of Coronilla varia by Jeff_Beck

By Equilibrium
Thumbnail #7 of Coronilla varia by Equilibrium

There are a total of 17 photos.
Click here to view them all!


5 positives
6 neutrals
7 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral bigarden On Jul 20, 2014, bigarden from Beecher, IL wrote:

For more information on Crown Vetch, go here

Positive basilgrows On Jun 10, 2014, basilgrows from Wheat Ridge, CO wrote:

I have Crown Vetch growing under an old blue spruce surrounded by lawn in the Denver metro area. We've had it there for almost 7 years, and it has never been a problem. It holds its own against deadly nightshade, and I love the flowers. I will be more vigilant after such negative comments. Maybe our cold winters have kept it from getting out of hand.

Negative plant_it On Jun 28, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Crown vetch is native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Crown vetch was introduced throughout North America in the 1950s for erosion control, particularly along roadways. Since its introduction to the U.S., it has spread throughout the country. It is currently reported as invasive in many states. It is still being sold and used in many states that have not officially declared it to be invasive.

Crown vetchs main impact is the displacement of native plant species from their habitats. Although it can provide forage for some species, it prevents native flowers and shrubs from establishing in open areas. This, in turn, is detrimental to native animals and insects which rely upon those native plants for food or shelter.

Neutral garden_joy_2 On Jan 22, 2012, garden_joy_2 from Newport, TN wrote:

Will cattle eat this stuff? I have some steep ground I was thinking about putting it on, and I'm questioning it now.

Neutral edensessentials On Mar 14, 2010, edensessentials from Willow Springs, MO wrote:

I haven't planted this, and thanks to the feedback I got here, I will not. (I'm surrounded by 750 acres of livestock pasture that I think my neighbor would like to keep intact!) I wanted to thank everyone who took time to write your comments, it really helps a novice like me! I also wanted, in general, to say to other novices like myself, PLEASE read reviews and research before you buy. So many online nurseries just say, "spreads quickly for fast coverage" or "you'll love this vigorous climber" and I'm finding that those are usually things to look into before you buy. (Especially if your neighbor needs his land for his livelihood!) So thanks again for the info everyone!

Negative Sherlock_Holmes On Jul 12, 2007, Sherlock_Holmes from Millersburg, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I don't state my dislike for a plant very often, but in this case I thought I'd make an exception. I personally hate this plant with a passion. It may look pretty or sometimes even smell nice, but it's negative factors outweigh the positive many times over. It's horribly invasive and has virtually crowded out many of the native species that also grow in this area.

It's a clear example of what happens when some well-meaning people chose a plant for erosion control without checking first to see what sort of impact it would have on its environment. Every year you see larger and larger areas of roadside taken over by this plant and it's positively gut-wrenching to see how it's destroying the habitat of the native species.

My honest advice to anyone who wants to buy or transplant this to their garden is DO NOT DO IT!!! You will be sorry in the future. Never mind how nice or fragrant it may be. DO NOT contribute to the degradation of your local environment by allowing this plant to grow in your garden. Once it escapes, it will spread and spread until it starts showing up everywhere.

This plant ranks on my evil plant list right up there at the top with Garlic Mustard.

Neutral frostweed On Dec 19, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Crown Vetch Coronilla varia is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.

Positive redrobinsnest On Jul 7, 2006, redrobinsnest from Moorhead, MN wrote:

Mn. has planted( the pink & white) it in ditches too steep to mow etc. along the interstates-it looks good tolerates bad soil little water. The yellow (Mediteranian) is lower growing we see it in empty lots, along curbs -can be invasive but seem to be easily controled by mowing or the weedeater- I love it- really does look better than the uncared for overgrown empty lots full of weeds.

Negative quiltfixer On Apr 16, 2006, quiltfixer from Bayboro, NC wrote:

It's nice to know this plant has behaved itself for a few folks... maybe they have a different variety than the stuff that creeps and climbs all over eastern NC. It's kind of pretty on its own, but will spread like wildfire and will climb any shrub or tree. The old azaleas and gardenias that were here when we moved in were so covered with it that you couldn't tell what kind of shrubs they were. Don't plant it unless you're positive you want it, because it can NOT be killed.

Positive WUVIE On Apr 3, 2006, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

A little surprising to find such negative comments
about this little guy.

I intentionally spread it about our garden.

It is one of the first plants to appear in spring here in
Northeastern Oklahoma. It is durable, easily
yanked out or mowed over if you don't want it in a
certain location, and very attractive with or without

We have it at the base of our Black Walnut tree,
at the entrance to our yard and even placed in our
walkway here and there.

Apparently it must grow differently here, as it is not a
pest at all, and quite easy to keep in order. A simple
whoosh of the Weed Eater does it for me.

Positive katie999 On Apr 1, 2006, katie999 from Indianapolis, IN wrote:

My experience with this plant has been positive. We planted it about six years ago, in a spot of packed clay which wraps around our deck, in which nothing would grow. It has grown there, and stayed there. I can see how it could be invasive if left completely alone, but it has not been an invasive problem for us. It has been reasonably easy to keep it out of our lawn, which is right next to that area. We mow over or pull up any little plants that migrate out of its allocated space, and that has done the trick for the last six years. It can be a rather scruffy, weedy looking plant when it is not flowering, but can be trimmed up, and is much nicer to look at than muddy or dusty clay.

Negative Gabrielle On Jan 25, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I had Crown Vetch until a few years ago; at least I think I got it all out. I bought it because it was supposed to be a "beautiful ground cover." Well, it did cover the ground. The flowers were nice, but not enough to let it take over. I dug at it for years and finally got it under control. My information says it is hardy to zone 3.

Negative Equilibrium On Dec 4, 2004, Equilibrium wrote:

Not necessarily surprising there were no negatives on this plant as it actually was being intentionally introduced and planted to control roadside erosion after construction. Like most members of the pea and bean family, Crown Vetch can fix nitrogen from the air into the soil. This was one of the reasons It was touted as being the miracle plant UNTIL it began to escape everywhere. Live and learn. What's really scary is that the plant was also used to stabilize steep embankments, slopes, ravines, and neglected areas so that nobody had to mow them. I wonder if the past decades of not having to mow those areas will make up for the next few decades those same people will be battling this beast? To the best of my knowledge, the widespread practice of using this plant to stabilize anything has long been abandoned. A few pockets may exist. The Army Corps Of Engineers has a Noxious and Nuisance Plant Management Information System Web site that provides information on how to control this species.

Coronilla varia is an extremely vigorous deciduous groundcover that will most probably require the use of chemicals to eradicate as it is quite difficult to control. It is a serious threat to natural communities because of its prolific ability to seed and its phenomenal ability to spread by underground rhizomes. Basically if you miss a piece when digging it up it will laugh at you and come back to make you miserable.

Did I mention it was fire resistant? Well, it is which means that prescribed burns will have little or no effect on the plant as the rhizomes are protected under the soil.

The irony of this entire situation is that we have now learned that these plants weren't all they were cracked up to be at erosion control because their roots have been found to be quite weak.

Negative lego_brickster On Sep 12, 2004, lego_brickster from Lawrenceville, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have to agree with the above. While it probably does have benefits for erosion control, when you take it out of that environment, it goes everywhere.
Definitely not for the home garden. It does have a nice flower, and good foliage, but it smothers everything in sight.
It does seem to prefer slopes, as it has taken over the hill below our pond, and the hilly gravel driveway leading up to our house. It actually grew in a pile of gravel that we left out for a single season.

Negative spaniel On Sep 5, 2003, spaniel from North Yarmouth, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

It surprises me that there are no negatives for crown vetch. I guess most of us don't expect to see it in a decorative plant list. As we say in the retail plant trade when asked if we carry it... "Not intentionally"
Very invasive and almost impossible to irradicate

Positive Greenknee On May 22, 2003, Greenknee from Chantilly, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant is used beneficailly by many highway departments and authorities in the seeding of rights-of-way, especially on slopes. It should be planted along with an inoculant.

Since this is the case, a nurse grasss is often specified in one of the prescribed seed mixtures.

It usually establishes slowly, given the sparse food and water available where planted. However - unlike almost all alternative plantings, it can survive and thrive even under the toughest conditions, stabilising slopes, improving the soil with its nitrogen capturing capabilities, and providing a very thick erosion control blanket. In this case its invasiveness is a major asset.

Neutral Baa On Jun 29, 2002, Baa wrote:

A herbaceous perennial from Europe and North Africa.

Has pinnate, mid-green leaves divided into 7-12 leaflets. Bears 10-20, small, purple, pink or white, pea like flowers arranged like a small crown.

Flowers late May-August

Likes a well-drained, fertile, light soil in full sun.

Whole plant has a straggling habit and being a legume will add nitrogen to the soil it grows in.

Neutral JanetR On Aug 24, 2001, JanetR from Ottawa, ON (Zone 4a) wrote:

Sprawling legume brought to the New World to serve as a ground cover and which subsequently escaped into the wild.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mountain Home, Arkansas
Carrollton, Georgia
Beecher, Illinois
Quincy, Illinois
Macy, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Warren, Indiana
Benton, Kentucky
Lancaster, Kentucky
Brookeville, Maryland
Bay City, Michigan
Cole Camp, Missouri
Omaha, Nebraska
Greenville, New Hampshire
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Deposit, New York
Kingston, New York
Poughkeepsie, New York
Skaneateles, New York
Bayboro, North Carolina
Beaufort, North Carolina
Columbus, Ohio
Northfield, Ohio
Sandusky, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Altamont, Oregon
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Newport, Tennessee
Falling Waters, West Virginia

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