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Yellow Vetchling

Lathyrus aphaca

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


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 Vetch, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, grassland, meadows, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Solitary, pale yellow, pea-like flowers, up to 13mm wide. Long-stalked. Pollinated by bees.
The fruit are brown pea-like pods which appear in August and September. The fruit reach 3.5cm in length.
A trailing annual flower with winged stems. The leaves are not true leaves as they have been adapted into long tendrils. The large, arrow-shaped, leaf-like structures at the bases of the leaves are actually stipules. The entire plant is waxy and is a dull green colour.
Other Names:
Yellow Pea, Yellow Peavine, Yellow-flowered Pea.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Lathyrus aphaca, also known as yellow vetchling or yellow peavine, is a species of flowering plant in the pea family (Fabaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia, and typically found in grasslands, meadows, and along roadsides. It is an annual or perennial plant that can reach a height of up to 1 meter. The leaves are compound and alternately arranged on the stem. The flowers are small, usually yellow or cream-colored, and arranged in loose clusters. The plant is known for its nitrogen-fixing ability, which can improve soil fertility. It is also used as forage for livestock, although it is not as widely cultivated as other vetch species. It is also a food source for wildlife such as insects and small mammals.


Yellow Vetchling (Lathyrus aphaca) is a beautiful and vibrant wildflower that is commonly found in meadows, pastures, and along the edges of forests throughout Europe and Asia. This plant is also known as meadow pea, meadow vetchling, or yellow pea.

Yellow Vetchling has delicate yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer, and its petals are arranged in a unique spiral formation that is both striking and aesthetically pleasing. The flowers are followed by long seed pods that eventually dry out and release their seeds into the surrounding soil.

The plant is a hardy annual that can grow up to 60 cm in height and produces an extensive root system that allows it to tolerate the tough growing conditions often found in meadows and pastures. Its leaves are pinnate and are typically divided into 7-9 leaflets.

One interesting feature of Yellow Vetchling is its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, making it a beneficial plant for farmers and gardeners looking to improve soil fertility. It is also a popular plant for wildlife, providing food and habitat for a variety of insects, birds, and mammals.

Despite its beauty and ecological benefits, Yellow Vetchling is often considered a weed by farmers and gardeners due to its ability to quickly spread and dominate areas where it grows. As a result, it can be difficult to control and may require regular management to prevent it from becoming too invasive.

Yellow Vetchling is a beautiful and versatile wildflower that adds color and life to meadows, pastures, and forests. It is a great plant for improving soil fertility and provides food and habitat for a wide range of wildlife species. Although it can be considered a weed by some, with proper management, it can be a valuable addition to any landscape.

In addition to its practical benefits, Yellow Vetchling also has a rich cultural and historical significance. The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and was traditionally used by ancient civilizations to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, coughs, and skin problems.

In folklore, the plant was believed to have magical properties and was often used in spells and rituals. For example, it was believed that carrying a sprig of Yellow Vetchling could protect a person from harm and bring good luck.

Yellow Vetchling is also an important plant for wildlife, providing a valuable source of food for a wide range of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. The plant is also a popular food source for small mammals such as hares, rabbits, and voles, as well as for birds, including finches and sparrows.

Despite its many benefits, Yellow Vetchling is not a commonly cultivated plant and is often overlooked by gardeners and farmers. However, it is a beautiful and versatile plant that can be easily grown in most soils and is a great addition to any wildflower meadow or natural garden.

Yellow Vetchling is a valuable and versatile wildflower that is often overlooked but has many benefits. From improving soil fertility and providing food and habitat for wildlife, to its rich cultural and historical significance, this plant is truly a gem of the natural world.

In addition to its benefits in the wild, Yellow Vetchling can also be used in gardening and landscaping. Its bright yellow flowers and delicate foliage make it a great addition to any garden, adding color and life to any outdoor space.

The plant is easy to grow and can be started from seed or by dividing established clumps. It prefers well-drained soils in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Once established, it is low maintenance and requires little water or fertilization.

Yellow Vetchling is also a great choice for natural landscaping, such as meadow gardens, rock gardens, and wildflower gardens. Its delicate flowers and airy foliage create a beautiful contrast with other plants and add movement and texture to any landscape.

Another great aspect of Yellow Vetchling is that it is a great plant for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and moths. This makes it an ideal choice for gardeners looking to create a garden that supports wildlife and is friendly to the environment.

In conclusion, Yellow Vetchling is not only a valuable plant in the wild, but it also has many uses in gardening and landscaping. Its beauty, versatility, and low maintenance requirements make it a great choice for anyone looking to add color and life to their outdoor space. Whether you're looking to create a wildflower meadow, a natural garden, or simply want to support pollinators, Yellow Vetchling is a great plant to consider.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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