T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Vicia sativa (Common vetch)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Vicieae
Genus: Vicia
Species: V. sativa
Binomial name: Vicia sativa
Synonyms: Vicia angustifolia, Vicia angustifolia, Vicia cordata, Vicia cuneata, Vicia cuneata, Vicia heterophylla, Vicia segetalis.
Common names: Common vetch, Vetch, Narrow-leaved vetch.

Vicia sativa is a variable sprawling nitrogen fixing leguminous plant that is a member of the pea family Fabaceae. It is a native of Europe, west Asia and north Africa. Vicia sativa consists of a great number of varieties, each differing from each other in development, flowering time, colour of flower and seed, etc. In New Zealand it is classed as a weed. This common weed forms large mats of vegetation in gardens, waste areas, roadsides, coastal areas and forest margins.

Vicia sativa is a slender to stout scrambling or tufted annual, which has hollow, four-sided, hairless to sparsely hairy stems which can reach 80 cm in length.
The leaves are stipulate, alternate and compound, each made up of 3 to 8 opposite pairs of linear, lance-shaped, oblong, or wedge-shaped needle-tipped leaflets up to 3.5 centimetres long. The compound leaves ends in a sensitive thread called a tendril. These tendrils wind themselves round any object they come in contact with and thus help to support the weak stems of the plant.
The flowers occur solitary or in pairs in the leaf axils. They have very short or no stalks. The flower corolla is 1 to 3 centimetres in length and are usually purple or pink colour. Some forms are white or yellow.
Late in the season after the flowers drop, seed pods form. They are a 30-70mm long legume pod with 5-12 seeds that are round and flattened, usually black in most varieties but grey, white or reddish in others. The pods are first green and hairy but become smooth on maturity and turn a brown or black colour.
In the past it has been grown as an animal fodder.



Vicia sativa growing roadside.




An opening flower.




The rear of the flower.




Seed pods


 





The underside of the leaflets.