categoryZClimbers Climbers List 
categoryZDeciduous Deciduous List 

NARROW-LEAVED VETCH

SLENDER-LEAVED VETCH

Vicia sativa ssp. nigra

Pea Family [Fabaceae]

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category
category8Climbers
category
category8Deciduous
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8mauve flower8purple flower8pink
inner
inner8white
morph
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petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8angular
stem
stem8ribbed

4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The shortest of the three other similar plants (see below) growing to 75cm, but often procumbent, as here. Between 3 and 8 oppositely-paired leaflets in a leaf with tendrils which are usually branched.


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Strongly heterophyllous (having two distinctively different leaves) - the upper leaves are narrow almost linear and sometimes with a nick at the end (as those left bottom).


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Whereas the lower leaves are oval. Both types of leaves have longish stipules at the ends.


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers 14-19mm and are (roughly) concolorous (all petals having the same shade and colour). Stems sometimes angular and ribbed.


22nd May 2015, dune slacks, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Branched tendril at end of leaf.


22nd May 2015, dune slacks, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Note the auricles either side of the main stem as the pinnate leaf stalk attaches to the main stem. Flowers usually in pairs.


22nd May 2015, dune slacks, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Note the auricles either side of the main stem as the pinnate leaf stalk attaches to the main stem.


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Un-opened flower and un-folding leaflets top left.


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers in pairs. Banner, wings and keels all the same shade of bright pinkish-purple. Note darker veins in keel.


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Stem decidedly square here. Sepal tube light green with angled teeth. Just below


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
There are a couple of small bracts at the base of each flower with black spots in their centres.


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Upper leaves narrow linear and they taper very abruptly at the end (whereas the upper leaves of Common Vetch are more oval).


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Lower leaves oval. Tendrils coiling around trying to get a grip on things.


4th June 2008, Burtons, East Lancs Rd, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Tendrils usually branched.


22nd May 2015, dune slacks, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Seed pods long and thin.


Easily mis-identified as : Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) which is the tallest at 1m variously pink to purple, rarely white or yellow, but with the wings being a darker shade than the banner.

There are three sub-species of Common Vetch :

  • Narrow-leaved Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. nigra) which is the plant depicted on this page - the shortest of all at 0.75m but often procumbent. Strongly heterophyllous (with two distinctively different shaped leaves) it has narrow leaves with the upper leaves being much and abruptly narrower than the lower leaves. Crucially, un-like Common Vetch, all five petals the same shade. It has black seed pods (rather than the brown of Common Vetch) that split open in a spiral.
  • Common Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. sativa) a quite rare relic of cultivation (for fodder) and at 1.5m taller than the others and with bicoloured flowers. Often mistaken for ssp. segetalis below.
  • Common Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. segetalis) to 1m tall with all leaves being much the same size and with bicoloured flowers. Sometimes cultivated for fodder.

Slight resemblance to : Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) but that has dull-purple flowers rather than bright purple-pink.

Not to be semantically confused with: Narrow-Leaved Everlasting-Pea or Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil [plants all belonging to the same Pea Family as Narrow-leaved Vetch].

No relation to : Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Narrow-Leaved Helleborine, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Water-plantain, Narrow-Leaved Ragwort, Narrow-leaved Ash or Narrow-leaved Lupin [plants with similar names].


  Vicia sativa ssp. nigra  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
 family8Pea family8Fabaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Vicia
Vicia
(Vetches)

NARROW-LEAVED VETCH

SLENDER-LEAVED VETCH

Vicia sativa ssp. nigra

Pea Family [Fabaceae]