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Vicia sativa - Common Vetch

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Fabales - Family: Fabaceae

Common Vetch Vicia sativa, closeup of flowers

Description

Common Vetch is an untidy scrambling annual with pinkish-mauve flowers that occur either singly or in pairs at leaf axils. The pea-like flowers are attractive to many kinds of insects, especially bumblebees. Plants can reach a height of a metre and sometimes more, but only when they have something sturdy to cling to for support..

Common Vetch, Pembrokeshire

Habitat

A tall clambering annual member of the Pea family, Common Vetch grows in hedgerows and upon bushes. The lanceaolate grey-green leaves grow in rows of opposing pairs on trailing stems terminating in curled tendrils that grasp supporting grasses and other vegetation.

Distribution

This plant is common and widespread throughout the UK and Ireland, most particularly in lime-rich areas such as coastal sand-dune systems.

Habitat

Tufted Vetch is found in a wide variety of including woodland edges, wasteland and scrubby grassland, coastal cliffs and sand dunes; it climbs over other plants and so is very visible in hedgerows and roadside banks.

Blooming times

You can expect to see this member of the pea family in bloom from late April until at least the end of August and sometimes well into September.

Common Vetch on a trackside verge

The flowers shown on this page were photographed on the coast of West Wales in May.

Leaves of Common Vetch Vicia sativa

The green leaves are compound and have ellipsoidal folded leaflets with spiked tips growing on trailing stems that terminate in branched curled tendrils. The tendrils grasp supporting grasses and other vegetation.


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