Bird Vetch

2 – Impacts And Common IPM Goals

Impacts from bird vetch vary depending on the location, but tend to revolve around the climbing and smothering growth habit. Bird vetch can use young trees as a host; it will climb them to increase exposure to sunlight (Wagner, 2017). For some trees such as spruce the climbing of bird vetch has no overall impact, while for species such as aspen climbing reduces photosynthesis and may compromise structural integrity–in some cases leading to death of young trees (Wagner, 2017). In wildland bird vetch is most likely to grow vigorously on south-facing forest edges where it can spread into forests until it is out-shaded. In landscape settings the climbing habit, particularly on trees and shrubs, can be unsightly. On some fences, particularly pasture fences, the dead vines of bird vetch combined with snow can damage fence structures.


Vicia cracca infestation
This bird vetch infestation is growing along a south facing forest edge and is climbing trees and shrubs in some cases overtopping them. (Michael Rasy, University of Alaska,

The goals of an IPM plan for bird vetch management can vary from eradication to control for aesthetic purposes. In wildlands and some agricultural settings (e.g. annual grain production) eradication may be desired. Eradication in home gardens and landscapes can be difficult because of differences in the availability of registered herbicides and resulting consequences. In some landscape situations the only option is controlling bird vetch to reduce impact to desirable vegetation.

Bird Vetch surronding tree
Bird vetch is often considered unsightly, and can be hard to remove from ornamental landscape plantings around trees and shrubs.