Ben is away from the museum this week ...

Ben is away from the museum this week ...

Ben is away from the museum this week, so we're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust! The following post was originally published on May 23, 2020.

If you've walked through any fields lately, you've almost certainly seen this plant and its small violet flowers. This is common vetch (Vicia sativa), which belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae) alongside peanuts, soybeans, peas and many others.

People often grow common vetch as a livestock fodder, and horses and cattle prefer it over grasses or clover. Livestock aren't the only ones to get in on the action; humans can eat common vetch, too! The young shoots can be cooked and taste a bit like spinach or collard greens, and the seeds inside the seed pods can be eaten fresh like peas, left to dry on the vine and used like dry beans, or even dried and ground into a type of flour!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

map of Virginia and surrounding areas

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