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Grass Vetchling

Lathyrus nissolia

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, 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, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, meadows, seaside, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Solitary or paired pea-like flowers, pink or reddish. Long-stalked. Self-pollinating.
Long, narrow, straight pea-like pods. The pods are flat at first, then later become cylindrical.
An annual flower which has slender, grass-like leaves. Since the leaves look so much like grass, this plant is very difficult to spot. This plant is without tendrils which helps distinguish it from many of the much-similar Vetch species.
Other Names:
Beach Pea, Grass Pea, Grass Vetch, Grass-leaved Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Mediterranean Pea, Vetch Grass.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Lathyrus nissolia, also known as the Mediterranean pea or the beach pea, is a species of flowering plant in the pea family (Fabaceae) that is native to coastal areas in the Mediterranean region. It typically grows as a trailing or climbing vine and produces small, purple or pink flowers. The plant is tolerant of salt and can grow in sandy soils, making it well-suited for coastal environments. It is considered a weed in some areas and can be invasive.


Grass Vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia) is a species of flowering plant belonging to the pea family (Fabaceae). This plant is native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia and has been widely introduced to other parts of the world as a weed.

Grass Vetchling is an annual plant that grows to a height of 20 to 60 cm. It has delicate, light green leaves and small, pea-like flowers that are usually purple, blue or pink in color. The flowers are arranged in clusters at the ends of branches and bloom from June to September.

One of the interesting features of Grass Vetchling is that it is able to fix nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil. This makes it a useful plant for improving soil fertility and preventing soil erosion. It is commonly used for this purpose in agroforestry and landscaping.

Another unique characteristic of Grass Vetchling is its ability to tolerate harsh environmental conditions. It is able to grow in a wide range of soils, including nutrient-poor and saline soils, and can withstand high temperatures and drought. This makes it an ideal choice for landscaping in dry, arid regions.

Despite its benefits, Grass Vetchling is also considered a weed in some parts of the world. It is invasive and can quickly take over an area, outcompeting native plants. In such cases, it is necessary to control its growth to prevent it from spreading further.

Grass Vetchling is a versatile plant that offers many benefits. However, it is important to consider its potential to become invasive before planting it in a particular area. If you are interested in using it in landscaping, it is recommended to do so in a controlled manner to avoid any negative impacts on the local ecosystem.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Grass Vetchling also has medicinal properties. The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including respiratory problems, skin infections, and digestive issues.

The seeds of Grass Vetchling contain a toxic amino acid called Lathyrism, which can cause paralysis and death in humans and animals if consumed in large quantities. However, the plant is generally considered safe if consumed in small amounts, as the toxic levels are only present in the seeds.

In the culinary world, Grass Vetchling is not commonly used, but the young shoots and leaves of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked and are said to have a delicate, nutty flavor. In some parts of the world, the seeds are also used to make flour for making bread.

Grass Vetchling is a fascinating plant that offers a wide range of benefits. From its ability to improve soil fertility, its tolerance of harsh environmental conditions, to its medicinal properties and potential use in cuisine, it is a plant that is worth exploring further. If you are interested in growing Grass Vetchling, it is best to do so in a controlled environment and under the guidance of a horticulturist or botanist to ensure its safe and effective use.

In addition to its practical uses, Grass Vetchling also has a place in art and literature. Its delicate beauty and unique characteristics have inspired many artists and writers over the years. In poetry, the plant has often been used as a symbol of resilience, endurance, and the beauty of nature.

In traditional folklore, Grass Vetchling also has a rich history and is associated with a number of legends and superstitions. In some cultures, it was believed to have protective qualities and was used to ward off evil spirits. In others, it was believed to have healing properties and was used in remedies for various ailments.

In terms of conservation, Grass Vetchling is not considered an endangered species, but it is important to be mindful of its impact on local ecosystems. If you are interested in growing it, it is recommended to do so in a controlled environment to prevent it from spreading and becoming invasive.

In conclusion, Grass Vetchling is a fascinating plant that has many practical uses, as well as a rich cultural and historical heritage. Whether you are interested in its environmental benefits, medicinal properties, or artistic and literary inspiration, it is a plant worth exploring and preserving for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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