common vetch

Vicia sativa subsp. sativa
Herb
Alternate
Compound
Purple
Green
Discoloured

A short-lived herbaceous plant with slender creeping, scrambling or climbing stems. Its alternately arranged leaves are once-compound and there is a pair of small leafy structures at the base of each leaf stalk. These leaves (2-10 cm long) have two to seven pairs of leaflets (18-27 mm long and 5-10 mm wide) and usually end in one or more tendrils. Its pink or purple pea-shaped flowers (1.8-3 cm long) are borne singly or in small clusters in the upper leaf forks. Its elongated and flattened pods (3-7 cm long and 6-12 mm wide) are usually somewhat hairy when young and turn brown or yellowish-brown when mature.

Common names 
Also known as: common vetch, vetch, golden tare , grain vetch, garden vetch , spring vetch,
Family 
Fabaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Winter- Spring
Native/Exotic 
Native
Origin 
Common vetch (Vicia sativa subsp. sativa ) is widely cultivated and naturalised throughout the world and its exact native range obscure. However, it is thought to be native to parts of Europe and Asia.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

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).

Habitat 

A weed of crops, wetlands, watercourses, open woodlands, grasslands, roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, gardens and pastures in temperate and occasionally also sub-tropical regions.

Habit 

A short-lived (i.e. annual) herbaceous plant with creeping (i.e. prostrate), scrambling or climbing stems growing 0.3-1.2 m tall.

Impact and control methods 

Common vetch (Vicia sativa subsp. sativa) is regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria and Western Australia.

Stem and leaves 

The slender stems range from being hairy to almost hairless (i.e. pubescent to glabrous) and reach up to 1 m long. The alternately arranged leaves are once-compound (i.e. pinnate) and borne on short stalks (i.e. petioles) 2-4 mm long. There is a pair of small toothed, leafy, structures (i.e. stipules) 3-8 mm long at the base of each leaf stalk. These leaves (2-10 cm long) have two to seven pairs of oblong or narrowly egg-shaped (i.e. obovate) leaflets and usually end in one or more tendrils. These leaflets (18-27 mm long and 5-10 mm wide) are hairy (i.e. pubescent) with entire margins and shortly-pointed tips (i.e. apices truncate or emarginate and apiculate).

Flowers and fruits 

The pea-shaped flowers are borne singly or arranged in small clusters in the upper leaf forks (i.e. in axillary racemes). These flowers (1.8-3 cm long) are borne on short stalks (i.e. pedicels) 1-4 mm long or are almost stalkless (i.e. sub-sessile). Each flower has five green sepals (9-22 mm long) that are fused together at the base into a tube (i.e. calyx tube) and five pink or purple petals. The larger uppermost petal (i.e. standard) are usually paler that the two side petals (i.e. wings), and the two lower petals are fused together and folded (i.e. into a keel). The flowers also have ten stamens and an elongated ovary topped with a short style and stigma. Flowering occurs mainly during winter and spring (i.e. from July to November). The elongated and flattened pods (3-7 cm long and 6-12 mm wide) and distinctly constricted between each of the seeds (i.e. slightly torulose). They are usually somewhat hairy (i.e. pubescent) when young and turn from green to brown or yellowish-brown in colour as they mature. Each of these pods contains 6-12 rounded to slightly oblong seeds (3.5-6.5 mm across).

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces by seed, which may be dispersed by water or in contaminated agricultural produce (e.g. fodder and pasture seeds).

Similar species 

Two other sub-species of common vetch (Vicia sativa) are also naturalised in Australia, narrow-leaved vetch (Vicia sativa subsp. nigra) and Vicia sativa subsp. cordata. These can be distinguished from each other by the following differences: common vetch (Vicia sativa subsp. sativa) has relatively broad leaflets (5-10 mm wide) and relatively large flowers (17-30 mm long). Its pods are relatively broad (6-12 mm wide) and turn yellowish-brown when mature narrow-leaved vetch (Vicia sativa subsp. nigra) has relatively narrow leaflets (1-4 mm wide) and relatively small flowers (8-18 mm long). Its pods are relatively narrow (4-6 mm wide) and turn dark brown or blackish when mature Vicia sativa subsp. cordata has relatively broad leaflets (10-15 mm wide) and relatively large flowers (18-26 mm long). Its pods are relatively narrow (4-6 mm wide) and turn dark brown when mature.