Aeschynomene virginica

Common Names:
sensitive joint-vetch, Virginia joint-vetch
(L.) B.S.P.
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
New England Wild Flower Society
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The conservation of Aeschynomene virginica is fully sponsored.
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth contributed to this Plant Profile.


Sensitive joint-vetch, so-named because its leaves fold slightly when touched, inhabits freshwater tidal marshes along the mid-Atlantic coast. Only 24 populations remain in New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, and the species has shrunk substantially from its former distribution, which once also included Pennsylvania and Delaware. Factors contributing to the decline of Aeschynomene virginica include: road construction; residential, commercial and industrial development; water pollution; bank erosion; and motor boat traffic -- all associated with extremely rapid population growth in the mid-Atlantic states. Interestingly, Aeschynomene virginica has frequently been confused in the scientific literature with the invasive weed, Aeschynomene indica, and referred to erroneously as an agricultural pest! Recent genetic and taxonomic studies have resolved this confusion (Carulli and Fairbrothers 1988, Isley 1990).

Research and Management Summary:
This species has been relatively well studied. A number of sites in the United States are protected by The Nature Conservancy, and some work is being done to remove invasive species.

Plant Description:
Aeschynomene virginica is a robust, annual herb in the pea family that grows up to 2 meters (6 feet) tall. It produces alternate, compound leaves with 30-56 leaflets along the stem that are slightly hairy and dotted with glands. Flowers are pea-like, about 1 cm (0.4 in) long, and yellow with prominent red veins; flowers appear in late July and continue into autumn. Fruits are segmented pods about 6 cm (2.3 in) long and are produced until first frost.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research