Vicia sativa

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Vicia sativa


Latin Name

Vicia sativa

Common Name(s)

Common vetch, Tare, Narrow-leaved vetch, Garden vetch

Plant Family


Plant Description (Height/Habit/General Characteristics)

Habitat: cropland, roadsides, weedy meadows

Habit: annual wildflower, semi-erect with tendrils for clinging

Height: 1' - 2.5' tall

Leaf Description

Alternate compound leaves. Leaves are pinnate with 5-6 pairs of leaflets and a tendril at the tip. Upper leaflet is green and the underside is pale green with short, fine hairs.


Photograph: Paul Slichter from

Flower Description

The middle to upper leaves form 1-2 nearly sessile flowers. The flowers range from pink to purple and have 5 petals and a tubular calyx with 5 teeth. They are pea-like with a banner, 2 wings and a keel.


Photograph: University of Wyoming

Seed Description

The flowers form small, hairless, elongated seedpods. They start green and flat and then become brown and swollen. There are usually about 5 to 12 seeds per seedpod. The plant reseeds itself.


Photograph: Krist

Stem Description

Stems are hollow and slightly squared. They can be either hairless or lightly pubescent.

Other Information

The roots are inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria when grown in poor soil. Growing this plant during crop rotations can be useful for controlling weeds.

Distinguishing Characteristics

The pinnately compound leaves, the leaflet ends and the curling vine at the tip are all defining characteristics of the plant.

Collection Location on GGC's Campus

Found at the front entrance of H building nearest the parking lot. The are growing within the phlox.

Historic Range

These plants are native to Europe and parts of western Asia, such as Turkey and Syria. Below is the plant's range for North America.

Common Vetch NA Range.PNG

Cultural Information

  • Some ancient societies, such as in the Mesopotamian era, incorporated common vetch in their diets.
  • It was, and still is, grown in Europe as fodder for livestock. Common vetch was brought to North America by the Europeans for this sole purpose.
  • It can be used as crop cover and natural weed control.


1. Daniel Zohary & Maria Hopf. 2000. Domestication of Plants in the Old World. Oxford University Press. p.g. 119. isbn: 978-0-19-850356-9 2. Heuzé V., Tran G., Baumont R., 2015. Common vetch (Vicia sativa). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:31

This Page Was Created By

Maggie Watkins; BIOL3310 Spring 2017

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