Thursday 27 October 2016


Common vetch (Vicia sativa subsp. sativa) is a nitrogen fixing leguminous plant in the family Fabaceae. Although considered a weed when found growing in a cultivated grainfield, this hardy plant is often grown deliberately as green manure or livestock fodder.

Vicia sativa is a sprawling annual herb, with hollow, four-sided, hairless to sparsely hairy stems which can reach two meters in maximum 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 cm long. Each compound leaf ends in a branched tendril. The pea-like flowers occur in the leaf axils, solitary or in pairs. The flower corolla is 1 to 3 cm in length and bright pink-purple in colour, more rarely whitish or yellow. The flowers are mostly visited by bumblebees. The fruit is a legume pod up to 6 or 7 cm long, which is hairy when new, smooth later, then brown or black when ripe. It contains 4-12 seeds.

It is widely naturalised in Australia, but most common and widespread in the southern parts of the country (i.e. in many parts of New South Wales, in the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania, in the south-eastern and southern parts of South Australia, and in south-western Western Australia). Occasionally also naturalised in the cooler parts of south-eastern Queensland. Also widely naturalised in North America (i.e. Canada and the USA).

Common Vetch has been part of the human diet, as attested by carbonised remains found at early Neolithic sites in Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia. It has also been reported from predynastic sites of ancient Egypt, and several Bronze Age sites in Turkmenia and Slovakia. However, definite evidence for later vetch cultivation is available only for Roman times.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Friday Greens meme.

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