categoryZClimbers Climbers List 

WOOD VETCH

Vicia sylvatica

Pea Family [Fabaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

category
category8Climbers
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8mauve inner8blue inner8purple
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8angular
stem
stem8fluted

30th June 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
A far-reaching scrambling perennial plant which grows to 1 or 2m. Flowers appear white from a distance...


30th June 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
... but in reality, at closer inspection, the flowers are particoloured, with sections having differing often bright colours. Leaves with many leaflets, which are usually offset-alternate, which occasionally includes no offset - being opposite by chance alignment. Stems zig and zag at every leaf junction.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are mostly white with, as here, areas of creamy-green and banners with mauve/purple or blue lines filled with a paler wash colour.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Between 4 to 15 flowers (up to 20 on occasion) in a set.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers 12 to 20mm long, often with purple looped lines and mauve colour-washes.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers on short petioles (stalks) the inflorescence emerging from a cupped sepal tube which is shorter at the top.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Pea-type flowers with 5 petals, the largest being the banner at the top. Two side-wings sit beneath the banner, the inside of which are also patterned with purple lines. Hidden between (but sometimes visible) the two wings are two smaller keel-petals. A single long white style with tiny discoidal stigma (along with several slightly shorter stamens with yellowish anthers) often poke outwards and upwards from the wings.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Stem might be angular in places; here square with slight furrows.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Sepal tubes with 5 narrow teeth, the upper two being shorter echoing the shorter length of the sepal tube at the top. Hairs sparse and short.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
A flower with all 5 petals visible at once: the large patterned banner at top, two petals comprising the wing which are patterned on the inner surfaces, and two smaller petals of the keel. Stamens and style protrude from the end of the keel.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The long white style which is hairy nearer the tiny stigma atop, and several stamens.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Hairy style and several stamens with yellowish anthers.


30th June 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Pods flattened, here with internal seeds visibly bulging, here with between 3 seeds to 6 or more.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Seed-pod in close-up: a short petiole with withering sepal cup and withered petals beneath. Style still attached to the end of the pod. Ripe pods 25-30mm long, which turn black when ripe.


30th June 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves with between 4-12 pairs of leaflets, usually not aligned opposite, therefore not pinnate.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves usually with branched tendrils at the end.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaflets oval and entire (not toothed). Branched tendril at end of leaf rachis.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaf rachis grooved at top. Leaflets oval often a slight taper but always with a short point at the end.


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Obverse of leaf, leaflets have very short stalks. Here the branched tendril has entwined around itself!


8th July 2016, railway sidings, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
At the base of each leaf are a small set of pointed stipules/ligules. Another tendril entwining with another leaf.


Easily confused both visually and semantically with : Wood Bitter-vetch (Vicia orobus) [a plant of similar name and in the same Genus, Vicia and which is similarly white with purple veins but at only 60cm is shorter, the leaflets are proportionally less wide and the leaves are without tendrils]. [Additionally, Wood Bitter-vetch should not be semantically confused with Bitter Vetchling (Lathyrus linifolius)].

Not to be semantically confused with : Wood Anemone, Wood Avens, Wood Barley, Wood Burdock, Wood Calamint, Wood Chickweed, Wood Club-rush, Wood Dock,, Wood Horsetail, Wood Fescue, Wood Cranesbill, Wood Forget-me-not, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Wood Ragwort, Wood Sage, Wood Sedge, Wood Small-reed, Wood-Sorrel, Wood Speedwell, Wood Spurge, Wood Stitchwort, Woodruff nor with Wormwood [plants with similar names belonging to disparate families]

It is a far-reaching scrambling and climbing perennial plant up to 2m long which uses branched tendrils at the ends of leaves to gain purchase on other plants, including itself. A native growing in open woods and woodland edges and scrub it is also to be found on mountains, scree, coastal cliffs and shingle. It is scattered throughout much of the UK, but occurring locally.


  Vicia sylvatica  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
 family8Pea family8Fabaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Vicia
Vicia
(Vetches)

WOOD VETCH

Vicia sylvatica

Pea Family [Fabaceae]