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Yellow Vetch

Vicia lutea

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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, Spring Vetch, 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 Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Cliffs, grassland, hedgerows, roadsides, scrub, sea cliffs, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Pale pink, solitary, short-stalked, pea-like flowers which later turn dirty yellow.
Black or yellowish-brown, pea-like pods, up to 4cm in length. Hairy.
A sprawling, greyish-green annual flower with leaves divided into 3 to 8 opposite paired leaflets.
Other Names:
Smooth Yellow Vetch.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Vicia lutea, also known as Yellow 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, yellow, 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.


Yellow Vetch: A Versatile and Nutritious Forage Plant

Yellow Vetch (Vicia lutea) is a legume that belongs to the family Fabaceae and is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is also commonly known as yellow vetchling, yellow vetch, or golden vetch. This plant is widely cultivated as a forage crop for livestock and is also used as a green manure and cover crop.

Yellow Vetch has attractive yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant has a prostrate growth habit and can grow up to 50 cm tall. The leaves are trifoliate and the stems are covered in fine hairs. The plant produces long, narrow pods that contain up to six seeds each.

Yellow Vetch is a highly nutritious forage plant, providing a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, and minerals for livestock. The protein content of yellow vetch is similar to that of soybeans and alfalfa, making it an excellent supplement for livestock diets. The plant is also a good source of energy, providing approximately 7-9% crude protein and 60-70% total digestible nutrients.

Aside from being a nutritious forage plant, yellow vetch also has several other uses. It can be used as a green manure crop to improve soil fertility and increase organic matter content. The plant fixes nitrogen in the soil, making it available to other plants, which helps to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. Yellow vetch is also a good cover crop, providing ground cover that helps to prevent soil erosion and suppress weed growth.

In terms of growing conditions, yellow vetch is a hardy plant that can be grown in a wide range of soils and climates. However, it does best in well-drained soils that are high in organic matter and has a preference for a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Yellow vetch is also a winter-hardy plant and can withstand cold temperatures, making it well-suited to areas with cold winters.

Yellow vetch is a versatile and nutritious forage plant that is well-suited to a range of farming and livestock production systems. Whether you're looking to provide a nutritious supplement for your livestock, improve soil fertility, or prevent soil erosion, yellow vetch is a great choice. With its attractive yellow flowers and prostrate growth habit, this plant is also a great addition to any garden or landscaping project.

In addition to its versatility as a forage crop and its value as a green manure and cover crop, yellow vetch is also gaining popularity as a cover crop in vineyards. In vineyards, yellow vetch is used to cover the soil between the rows of grapevines, providing a lush green cover that helps to retain moisture and suppress weeds. This not only helps to improve the health of the soil, but it also provides a more aesthetically pleasing appearance in the vineyard.

Yellow vetch is also becoming increasingly popular as a forage crop for organic and sustainable livestock production systems. It is an excellent source of protein and minerals, and is a great alternative to genetically modified soybeans and other synthetic protein supplements. In organic and sustainable livestock systems, yellow vetch is used to provide a natural source of protein and other nutrients to livestock, reducing the need for synthetic supplements.

When harvesting yellow vetch for livestock, it is important to harvest it at the right time to ensure maximum nutritional value. The best time to harvest yellow vetch is when the plants are in the early flowering stage, as this is when the protein and mineral content is at its highest. If yellow vetch is harvested too late, the protein and mineral content decreases, making it a less valuable forage crop.

Yellow vetch is a versatile, nutritious, and sustainable forage crop that has a wide range of uses in agriculture and livestock production. Whether you're looking to improve soil fertility, provide a natural source of protein for your livestock, or enhance the appearance of your vineyard, yellow vetch is a great choice. With its attractive yellow flowers, prostrate growth habit, and hardy nature, this plant is also a great choice for home gardens and landscaping projects.

Yellow vetch is also a valuable component in intercropping systems, where it is grown alongside other crops such as corn, wheat, or barley. In intercropping systems, yellow vetch provides a number of benefits, including increased soil fertility, improved soil structure, reduced pest pressure, and increased overall yields. The nitrogen-fixing ability of yellow vetch also helps to reduce the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, which is an important benefit for farmers who are looking to adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices.

Another advantage of yellow vetch is its ability to grow in areas where other forage crops may struggle. This makes it a valuable crop for farmers in areas with limited resources or harsh growing conditions. For example, yellow vetch can be grown in areas with poor soil quality or low rainfall, making it an ideal choice for farmers in these regions.

When it comes to planting yellow vetch, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a successful crop. Yellow vetch can be planted in the fall or spring and prefers well-drained soils that are high in organic matter. It is also important to plant yellow vetch at the right depth, as too shallow a planting depth can lead to poor germination and too deep a planting depth can result in poor growth.

In conclusion, yellow vetch is a valuable and versatile crop that is well-suited to a wide range of farming systems and growing conditions. With its high nutritional value, ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, and ability to grow in areas where other forage crops may struggle, yellow vetch is an excellent choice for farmers and gardeners alike. Whether you're looking to provide a nutritious supplement for your livestock, improve soil fertility, or enhance the appearance of your garden, yellow vetch is a great choice that is sure to deliver.

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