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Vicia sativa is a widely grown forage crop, although outside cultivation it is often considered to be a weed. It belongs in the legume family, Leguminosae (also known as Fabaceae), and, like many other legumes, it has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air due to a symbiotic relationship with bacteria housed in root nodules. As a result, common vetch is high in protein.

Vicia sativa (common vetch)

[FZ]

Leguminosae, various authors. Flora Zambesiaca 3:7. 2003

Morphology General Habit
Straggling or ascending annual herb up to 80 cm tall.
Morphology Stem
Stems angular, sparsely pubescent to subglabrous.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves 6–16-foliolate, lower ones 2–4-foliolate; leaflets 9–35 × 1–11(15) mm, linear to broadly oblong, oblong-obovate or obcordate, acute, obtuse, rounded or emarginate at the apex and usually mucronate or shortly cuspidate, usually cuneate at the base, sparsely pilose on both surfaces or glabrescent; petiole up to 8 mm long; rhachis usually terminating in a branched tendril; petiolules c. 0.5 mm long; stipules up to 8 mm long, semi-sagittate, entire or dentate, with a dark glandular median spot.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers 1–2 in the axils, subsessile or very shortly pedicellate.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx sparsely pubescent to subglabrous; tube 3.5–7 mm long, slightly asymmetrical at the base, the mouth not oblique; lobes subequal, equalling or shorter than the tube, linear-lanceolate.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla 10–30 mm long, light reddish-purple, bluish or mauve; standard 6–11 mm wide, obovate, emarginate; wings 2–3 mm shorter than the standard, the lamina equalling or exceeding the claw and oblong-obovate with a long auricle; keel ± two-thirds as long as the wings, the lamina broadly oblong, shorter than the claw.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Style
Style dorsally compressed, pubescent all round towards the apex and with a tuft of longer hairs below the apex on the lower edge.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Pod narrowly oblong, 25–50 × 4–9 mm, brownish-black, pubescent to glabrous.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds 2.5–6 mm in diameter, subglobose, smooth.

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Colombia

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description

Vicia sativa is a widely grown forage crop, although outside cultivation it is often considered to be a weed. It belongs in the legume family, Leguminosae (also known as Fabaceae), and, like many other legumes, it has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air due to a symbiotic relationship with bacteria housed in root nodules. As a result, common vetch is high in protein.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Common vetch is native to Southern Europe and is now cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, west and Central Asia, China, eastern Asia, India and the USA in many temperate, subtropical and tropical regions. 

Description

Overview: Vicia sativa is a scrambling annual herb growing up to 2 metres tall. Its stem is four-angled and sometimes hairy and can be branched, unbranched, climbing or decumbent (trailing along the ground). 

Leaves: The leaves are composed of 3-8 pairs of opposite leaflet and a terminal 2-3 branched tendril that assists the climbing habit. 

Flowers: The flowers, which are papilionaceous (resembling the garden pea flower) occur in the axils between the leaf stalk and the main stem and are single or in clusters of up to 3. The corolla ranges in colour from white to blue, red to pink-purple. 

Fruit: The fruit is a sub-cylindrical pod up to 7 cm long and contains up to 12 seeds. The seeds are round and somewhat laterally flattened and are black to brownish in colour.

Uses

Common vetch is widely cultivated for its high quality forage (fresh, hay and silage) and grain for livestock. It is also a valuable cover crop and is used as green manure. 

Crop wild relatives of common vetch

The Millennium Seed Bank and the Global Crop Diversity Trust are engaged in a ten-year project, called 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change'. The project aims to protect, collect and prepare the wild relatives of 29 key food crops, including common vetch, so that they are available to pre-breeders for the development of new varieties that are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plants worldwide, focusing on those plants which are under threat and those which are of most use in the future. Once seeds have been collected they are dried, packaged and stored at -20°C in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank vault.

Description of seeds: Average weight of 1,000 seeds = 38.6 g

Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Five

Seed storage behaviour: Orthodox (the seeds of this plant can be dried to low moisture contents without significantly reducing their viability. This means they are suitable for long-term frozen storage)

Germination testing: Successful

This species at Kew

Pressed and dried specimens of common vetch are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. Details and images of some of these specimens can be seen online in Kew's Herbarium Catalogue.

Distribution
Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey
Ecology
Outside of cultivation, common vetch can be found growing as a weed in meadows, along roadsides and railroads and in wheat fields. Common vetch grows well in different soil types there is adequate drainage and a pH with a range between 5.5-8.2.
Conservation
Widespread in cultivation.

[ILDIS]

International Legume Database and Information Service

Conservation
Not Threatened
Morphology General Habit
Annual/Perennial, Climbing/Not climbing, Herb
Vernacular
Acker-Wicke, Arveja, Arveja Comun, Chveulebrivi Tzertzvela, Common Vetch, Ekin Lerke, Ervilhaca, Fodervicker, Garoshak Pasyaouny, Goroshek Kormovoi, Goroshek Posevnoi, Goroshok Posivnyi, Lentille Sauvage, Mazariche, Pois France, Rehuvirna, Saat-Wicke, Sai

[FTEA]

Leguminosae, J. B. Gillett, R. M. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1971

Morphology General Habit
Straggling or ascending annual herb 10–70 cm. long.
Morphology Stem
Stems glabrescent to sparsely pubescent with short spreading hairs.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves (2–)4–12-foliolate; leaflets very variable in shape, linear, narrowly oblong or sometimes broadly obovate or obcordate, 0·3–4 cm. long, 0·2–1·5 cm. wide, acute, rounded or emarginate at the apex, usually apiculate or cuspidate, mostly cuneate at the base, thinly pilose on both surfaces or glabrescent; petiole short, usually less than 1 cm. long; rhachis of upper leaves with a well-developed branched tendril; petiolules only 0·5 mm. long but distinct; stipules semisagittate, 3–8 mm. long, 2–6 mm. wide, with a distinct dark glandular median blotch, margins toothed.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers solitary or paired, subsessile or very shortly pedicellate.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx glabrescent or sparsely pubescent; tube 3·5–7 mm. long; lobes linear-lanceolate, 3–8 mm. long, often with a glandular blotch.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla crimson, violet, bluish or sometimes white, the standard often palest; standard obovate, ovate or oblong, 0·7–2·5 cm. long, 0·8–1·7 cm. wide, emarginate.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Pods narrowly oblong, compressed, 2·3–5·7 cm. long, (4–)5–8·5 mm. wide, pubescent or mostly glabrescent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds usually dark brown, sometimes marbled, subglobose or slightly compressed, 2·5–5 mm. in diameter.

[KSP]
Use
Livestock fodder, green manure, cover crop.

[ILDIS]
Use
Food and Drink, Forage, Medicine, Weed

Doubtfully present in:

Tanzania, Uganda, Zaïre

Native to:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Altay, Assam, Austria, Baleares, Baltic States, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Buryatiya, Canary Is., Central European Rus, China South-Central, China Southeast, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, East Himalaya, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Gulf States, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Irkutsk, Italy, Japan, Kamchatka, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Kriti, Krym, Kuril Is., Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Madeira, Magadan, Mongolia, Morocco, Nansei-shoto, Nepal, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Primorye, Romania, Sakhalin, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Sicilia, Sinai, South European Russi, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Taiwan, Tibet, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Tuva, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, West Himalaya, West Siberia, Western Sahara, Xinjiang, Yakutskiya, Yemen, Yugoslavia

Introduced into:

Alabama, Amsterdam-St.Paul Is, Angola, Argentina Northeast, Argentina South, Arkansas, Bermuda, Brazil South, California, Cape Provinces, Chatham Is., Chile Central, Chile South, China North-Central, Colombia, Colorado, Connecticut, Cuba, Delaware, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Falkland Is., Florida, Free State, Føroyar, Georgia, Great Britain, Haiti, Hawaii, Iceland, Illinois, Inner Mongolia, Jamaica, Jawa, Kentucky, Kermadec Is., KwaZulu-Natal, Louisiana, Manchuria, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mauritius, Mexico Southwest, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Myanmar, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Mexico, New South Wales, New York, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Newfoundland, Norfolk Is., North Carolina, Northern Provinces, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Queensland, Rhode I., Rodrigues, Rwanda, Réunion, South Australia, South Carolina, St.Helena, Svalbard, Tasmania, Tennessee, Texas, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vermont, Victoria, Vietnam, Virginia, Washington, Western Australia, Wisconsin, Zimbabwe

English
Common vetch

Vicia sativa L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Nov 5, 2015 Hoe, Wm. [1991.434], Hawaii K001134448
Ross-Craig, S. [1753], United Kingdom 15720.000
Hinton, G.B. [396], Mexico K000118511
Hinton, G.B. [2456], Mexico K000118512
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 5957], India K001122644
Hinton, G.B. [2456], Mexico K000118513
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5957], Bangladesh K001122642
Fagerlund, G.O. [446], Hawaii K001134446
Botteri, M. [696], Mexico K001294377
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5957] K001122645

First published in Sp. Pl.: 736 (1753)

Accepted by

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  • Chadde, S.W. (2019). Minnesota Flora. An illustrated guide to the vascular plants of Minnesota ed. 2: 1-776. Steve W. Chadde.
  • Chadde, S.W. (2019). Wisconsin Flora ed. 2: 1-818. Steve W. Chadde.
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  • Cossu, T.A, Camarda, I. & Brundu, G. (2014). A catalogue of non-native weeds in irrigated crops in Sardinia (Italy) Webbia; Raccolta de Scritti Botanici 69: 145-156.
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  • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2012). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 4: 1-431. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
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  • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012). Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies), ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Ghazanfar, S.A. (2007). Flora of the Sultanate of Oman. volume 2. Crassulaceae - Apiaceae Scripta Botanica Belgica 36: 1-220.
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  • Kumar, S. (2012). Herbaceous flora of Jaunsar-Bawar (Uttarkhand), India: enumerations Phytotaxonomy 12: 33-56.
  • Lazkov, G.A. & Sultanova, B.A. (2011). Checklist of vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan Norrlinia 24: 1-166.
  • Lepschi, B. & Monro, A. (Project Coordinators) (2014). Australian Plant Census (APC) Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria. http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/index.html.
  • Lock, J.M. & Heald, J. (1994). Legumes of Indo-China a checck-list: 1-164. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Lock, J.M. (1989). Legumes of Africa a check-list: 1-619. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Meades, S.J. & Brouillet, L. (2019). Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador https://www.newfoundland-labradorflora.com/checklist/.
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  • Nikitin, V.V. (ed.) (1949). Flora Turkmenii 4: 1-364. Turkmenskoe gosudarstvennoe izd., Ashkhabad.
  • Rodríguez, R., Grau, J., Baeza, C. & Davies, A. (2008). Lista comentada de las plantas vasculares de los Nevados de Chillan, Chile Gayana. Botánica 65: 153-197.
  • Sarmah, K.K. & Borthakur, S.K. (2009). A checklist of angiospermic plants of Manas national park in Assam, India Pleione 3: 190-200.
  • Shaheen, H., Qureshi, R., Akram, A., Gulfraz, M. & Potter, D. (2014). A preliminary floristic checklist of Thal desert Punjab, Pakistan Pakistn Journal of Botany 46: 13-18.
  • Sikarwar, R.L.S. (2014). Angiosperm diversity assessment of Chitrakootthe legendary place of Vindhyan range, India Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 38: 563-619.
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  • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968). Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press.
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Literature

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  • Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003). Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist: 1-536. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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  • Rodríguez, R., Grau, J., Baeza, C. & Davies, A. (2008). Lista comentada de las plantas vasculares de los Nevados de Chillan, Chile Gayana. Botánica 65: 153-197.
  • Sarmah, K.K. & Borthakur, S.K. (2009). A checklist of angiospermic plants of Manas national park in Assam, India Pleione 3: 190-200.
  • Shaheen, H., Qureshi, R., Akram, A., Gulfraz, M. & Potter, D. (2014). A preliminary floristic checklist of Thal desert Punjab, Pakistan Pakistn Journal of Botany 46: 13-18.
  • Troupin, G. (ed.) (1983). Flora du Rwanda 2: 1-603. Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.
  • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968). Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press.
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