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Spring Vetch

Vicia lathyroides

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Beaches, grassland, heathland, hedgerows, sand dunes, seaside, walls, wasteland, woodland.

Purple, 5 petals
Solitary pale purple flowers, up to 1cm across.
A pea-like pod, up to 3cm long.
2 to 4 pairs of opposite leaflets, ending in an unbranched tendril or point. The leaves are hairy and paler beneath. Very similar-looking to the subspecies of Common Vetch, Vicia sativa nigra. Spring Vetch is taller growing. Annual.
Other Names:
Strangle Tare.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Vicia lathyroides, also known as Lathyrus Vetch, is a perennial climbing vine that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Fabaceae family and is known for its small, pink, pea-like flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The leaves are compound and the plant has a characteristic tendril, which it uses to climb on other plants or structures. It is commonly found in woodlands, hedgerows, and other wild areas. It is not commonly used for medicinal or other practical purposes, and there is little scientific research on its potential benefits. It is often considered a weed and is often removed from cultivated areas. It is not commonly cultivated for forage or green manure.


Spring Vetch (Vicia lathyroides) is a flowering plant species that belongs to the pea family (Fabaceae). It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia and is known for its fragrant and attractive flowers.

One of the most distinctive features of spring vetch is its blue-violet, pea-like flowers that bloom in clusters on long stems. The blooming season usually starts in early spring and lasts until summer, making this plant an excellent addition to a spring garden. The leaves of spring vetch are green, pinnate and have a feathery appearance.

The plant grows in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and rocky slopes. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Spring vetch is a hardy plant and can tolerate cold temperatures, making it suitable for planting in regions with harsh climates.

In addition to its ornamental value, spring vetch is also an excellent forage crop for livestock, especially for grazing animals such as sheep and goats. The plant is high in protein and fiber and can provide a valuable source of nutrition for livestock during the spring months when other forage crops may not be available.

Spring vetch is easy to grow and can be propagated by seed. The seeds can be sown in the fall or spring, and the plants will grow rapidly once established. The plant is also well-suited for use in wildflower meadows and can be planted alongside other native species to create a diverse and attractive landscape.

Spring vetch (Vicia lathyroides) is a versatile and attractive plant that provides both ornamental and practical value. Whether you're looking to add some color to your spring garden or seeking a valuable forage crop for livestock, spring vetch is a great choice that is sure to provide a welcome addition to any landscape.

Spring vetch is a hardy, fast-growing plant that is relatively low maintenance, making it an ideal choice for both gardeners and farmers. It is also a good choice for naturalizing or restoring degraded habitats, as it is able to colonize quickly and help to establish a more diverse and resilient ecosystem.

One of the benefits of spring vetch is that it is a nitrogen-fixing plant, meaning that it is able to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by other plants. This makes it a valuable addition to crop rotations or intercropping systems, as it helps to improve soil fertility and promote healthy plant growth.

Another benefit of spring vetch is its ability to suppress weed growth. This is because it grows quickly and produces dense foliage, which helps to smother out weeds and reduce the need for manual weeding. In addition, spring vetch also produces a deep taproot that helps to break up soil compaction and improve soil structure.

Despite its many benefits, spring vetch does have a few drawbacks. One of these is that it is relatively short-lived, usually only surviving for 2-3 years before needing to be replanted. Additionally, in some regions, it may become invasive and spread beyond the desired area, which can be difficult to control.

Overall, spring vetch is a valuable and versatile plant that can offer many benefits to gardeners, farmers, and the environment. Whether you're looking to improve soil fertility, attract pollinators, or simply add some color to your garden, spring vetch is a great choice that is sure to deliver impressive results.

In addition to its practical benefits, spring vetch also has a cultural and historical significance. The plant has been used for food and medicine for centuries and has been valued for its nutritional and medicinal properties.

In traditional medicine, the leaves and seeds of spring vetch were used to treat a variety of conditions, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and skin conditions. The plant was also used as a diuretic and to promote lactation in nursing mothers.

Today, spring vetch is still valued for its nutritional benefits and is a common ingredient in healthy and sustainable diets. The seeds of the plant are high in protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy and tasty addition to a variety of dishes, such as salads, soups, and stews.

In conclusion, spring vetch (Vicia lathyroides) is a multi-faceted and valuable plant that offers a wide range of benefits to gardeners, farmers, and society. Whether you're looking to add some color to your garden, improve soil fertility, or simply enjoy the delicious and nutritious seeds of this plant, spring vetch is a great choice that is sure to deliver impressive results.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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