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Bush Vetch

Vicia sepium

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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, 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, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, scrub, wasteland, woodland.

Purple, 5 petals
Short stalked spikes comprised of 2-6 small lilac-coloured pea-like flowers. The white-flowered variety is uncommon.
Hairless, stalked, pea-like pods, up to 3.5cm. Black when ripe.
Compound leaves, 5 to 8 pairs of leaflets. Tendrils present.
Other Names:
Hedge Vetch, Wood Vetch.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Vicia sepium, also known as Bush Vetch or Wood 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, purple, 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. The plant 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 as a weed and is often removed from cultivated areas.


Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) is a perennial climbing plant species that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is a hardy and versatile plant that can grow in a variety of habitats, from grasslands to woodland margins and hedgerows.

Bush Vetch is known for its attractive foliage and delicate, pea-like flowers that bloom from June to September. The flowers range in color from pink to purple, and they are popular with a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. The leaves are pinnate, meaning they are divided into smaller leaflets, and they are a bright green color that contrasts beautifully with the flowers.

In addition to its ornamental value, Bush Vetch is also an important food source for livestock and wildlife. The plant is nitrogen-fixing, meaning it can help improve the soil quality in agricultural fields and meadows. Livestock, especially cattle and sheep, are known to graze on the leaves and stems of the plant, and the seeds are a valuable source of food for birds and small mammals.

Despite its many benefits, Bush Vetch is not often used in gardens and landscaping due to its aggressive growth habit. The plant can quickly spread and take over areas of the garden if not controlled, and it can be difficult to remove once established. However, with proper management and control, Bush Vetch can be a valuable addition to any landscape.

Bush Vetch is a hardy and versatile plant that provides a wealth of benefits for both wildlife and people. Whether you are looking to add some color to your garden or improve the soil quality in your fields, this plant is definitely worth considering.

Additionally, Bush Vetch has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The leaves and stems of the plant contain various compounds that have been found to have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. The plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including menstrual cramps, coughs, and digestive issues.

In traditional herbal medicine, the roots of Bush Vetch were also used as a diuretic and a laxative. The plant was also used to treat skin conditions and wounds, as the compounds in the plant have antiseptic and wound-healing properties.

Aside from its medicinal uses, Bush Vetch has also been used in agriculture as a cover crop. The plant helps to control erosion, improve soil fertility, and suppress weeds. The deep roots of the plant help to break up compacted soil, and the nitrogen-fixing properties of the plant improve soil fertility.

Bush Vetch is a multi-functional plant that provides a wealth of benefits for both people and the environment. Whether you are looking to add some color to your garden, improve the soil quality in your fields, or find a natural remedy for various ailments, Bush Vetch is definitely worth considering.

It's worth noting that Bush Vetch is considered a noxious weed in some countries and regions, as it can quickly spread and outcompete native vegetation. Gardeners and farmers should be cautious when planting this species and should take steps to prevent its spread into natural areas.

If you are interested in planting Bush Vetch in your garden, it is best to grow it in a well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. The plant is relatively low-maintenance and does not require a lot of watering or fertilizing. It can be propagated from seed or by division, and it can also be grown from cuttings.

Bush Vetch is a versatile and attractive plant that provides a wealth of benefits for both people and the environment. However, it is important to be aware of its potential invasiveness and to take steps to prevent its spread into natural areas. With proper management and control, Bush Vetch can be a valuable addition to any landscape or garden.

Bush Vetch can also provide valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife species. The plant is a favorite food source for many species of butterflies, moths, and bees, and it can provide shelter and nesting sites for birds and small mammals. The plant is also a good source of nectar for hummingbirds and other nectar-feeding birds.

In addition to its wildlife benefits, Bush Vetch is also an important plant for wildlife conservation. The plant is a key component of many threatened and declining habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and hedgerows. These habitats are important for a variety of wildlife species, and conserving them is critical for maintaining biodiversity.

Furthermore, Bush Vetch can be a valuable tool in the fight against climate change. The plant is a carbon sequesterer, meaning it helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. By planting Bush Vetch in agricultural fields, farmers can help reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

In conclusion, Bush Vetch is a valuable plant for both people and the environment. It provides a wealth of benefits, from providing food and habitat for wildlife to improving soil fertility and combating climate change. Whether you are a gardener, farmer, or conservationist, Bush Vetch is definitely a plant worth considering.


Bush Vetch filmed in Adlington, Lancashire on the 14th June 2022 and on the 13th May 2023 at Carnforth, Lancashire.


Music credits
Prelude No. 23 by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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