Open the Advanced Search

Common Vetch

Vicia sativa

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, 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:
1 metre tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland, wetland, woodland.

Purple, 5 petals
Pink pea-like flowers, solitary or in pairs.
Glabrous, dark brown or near black, pea-like pods, up to 7cm long.
The compound leaves have 3 to 8 pairs of leaflets. The upper leaves a slightly more narrow and tendrils are forked.
Faintly aromatic.
Other Names:
Black Pod Vetch, Garden Vetch, Narrow-leaf Vetch, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Slender-leaved Vetch, Spring Vetch, Subterranean Vetch, Tare, Vetch, Winter Tares.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Vicia sativa, also known as Common Vetch or Garden Vetch, is a annual or 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. This plant is often cultivated as a forage crop, and it's a valuable source of protein and minerals for livestock. It is also used as a green manure crop to improve soil fertility. The plant is known to be a hardy and drought-tolerant plant, it's often used in crop rotation systems. It is not commonly used for medicinal or other practical purposes, and there is little scientific research on its potential benefits.


Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) is a type of legume that is widely cultivated for both its forage and cover crop benefits. It is a hardy, quick-growing plant that is easy to establish and maintain, making it a popular choice among farmers and gardeners alike.

Vicia sativa is a nitrogen-fixing plant, meaning that it has the ability to absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that is usable by other plants. This makes it a valuable addition to crop rotations, as it helps to enrich soil and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. The plant's deep roots also help to prevent soil erosion and improve soil structure, making it a useful cover crop.

Common Vetch is also a great forage crop for livestock, providing high-quality protein and other essential nutrients. The plant is highly palatable to livestock and is a popular choice for grazing and hay production. It can also be used as a green manure crop, as the plant's high nitrogen content can be incorporated into the soil after it has been cut or plowed under.

In addition to its agricultural uses, Common Vetch is also an attractive ornamental plant, with delicate flowers that come in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white. It is a popular choice for wildlife gardens, as it provides an important source of food and habitat for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

Growing Common Vetch is relatively easy, and it can be sown from seed directly in the field or started in a greenhouse and then transplanted. The plant is adaptable to a wide range of soils and climatic conditions, but prefers well-drained soils and full sun.

Common Vetch is a versatile and valuable crop that is widely cultivated for its numerous benefits. Whether you are a farmer looking to improve soil fertility and produce high-quality forage, or a gardener looking to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects to your garden, Common Vetch is definitely worth considering.

Common Vetch is a hardy annual plant that is well suited to a range of growing conditions, including both temperate and subtropical regions. It is also a drought-tolerant crop that is able to withstand dry conditions and recover quickly after rain. This makes it a great choice for farmers and gardeners in regions that experience sporadic rainfall or dry spells.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Common Vetch also has a number of nutritional benefits for livestock. The plant contains high levels of crude protein, making it a valuable source of nutrition for livestock, especially during the summer when other forage sources may be scarce. It also provides a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

Common Vetch is also a beneficial crop for the environment, as it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plant's ability to fix nitrogen from the air means that it reduces the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, which are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, Common Vetch is a relatively low-maintenance crop, requiring minimal inputs once it has been established, making it a sustainable choice for farmers and gardeners alike.

Common Vetch is a versatile, hardy, and sustainable crop that provides a range of benefits for farmers, gardeners, and the environment. Whether you are looking to improve soil fertility, produce high-quality forage, or attract pollinators to your garden, Common Vetch is a great choice to consider.

Common Vetch also has a number of medicinal properties and has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy in many cultures. The plant is known to have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and diuretic properties, making it a valuable addition to herbal medicine. It is also rich in antioxidants and has been found to have potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties, making it a useful plant in the fight against various diseases.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Common Vetch is also a food crop in some cultures. The young shoots, leaves, and tender pods of the plant are often consumed as a vegetable, either cooked or raw. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and are considered to be a healthy addition to the diet. The seeds of the plant are also a valuable source of protein and are often used to make flour for use in baked goods and other food products.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Common Vetch is an important crop for biodiversity, as it provides food and habitat for a wide range of wildlife. The flowers of the plant are a valuable source of nectar for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and moths, while the seeds are a food source for birds and small mammals. The plant is also a habitat for beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which play an important role in controlling pest populations in the garden.

Common Vetch is a multi-functional crop that provides a range of benefits for farmers, gardeners, the environment, and human health. Whether you are looking to improve soil fertility, produce high-quality forage, attract pollinators, or add a nutritious food to your diet, Common Vetch is a valuable crop to consider.

In addition to its many benefits, Common Vetch is also relatively easy to harvest and process. The seeds can be harvested by hand or using a combine, and are then typically threshed to separate the seeds from the plant material. The seeds can be used whole or processed into flour, which can be used in a variety of food products.

The plant material that is left after threshing can also be used, as it is high in nitrogen and other essential nutrients. It can be incorporated into the soil as a green manure crop, helping to improve soil fertility and structure. The plant material can also be used as a mulch or compost, providing valuable organic matter to the soil.

Common Vetch is also a relatively low-maintenance crop, as it requires minimal inputs once it has been established. It is relatively pest-resistant, although it may be affected by some common legume pests, such as aphids and bean beetles. These pests can be controlled using natural methods, such as releasing beneficial insects, or with the use of minimal amounts of pesticide.

In conclusion, Common Vetch is a valuable crop that is easy to harvest and process, providing a range of benefits for farmers, gardeners, and the environment. Whether you are looking to improve soil fertility, produce high-quality forage, attract pollinators, or add a nutritious food to your diet, Common Vetch is a versatile and sustainable crop to consider.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map