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common name for many weak-stemmed, leguminous herbs of the genus Vicia of the family Leguminosae (pulsepulse,
in botany, common name for members of the Fabaceae (Leguminosae), a large plant family, called also the pea, or legume, family. Numbering about 650 genera and 17,000 species, the family is third largest, after the asters and the orchids.
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 family). The vetches are chiefly annuals, distributed over temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere and of South America. Most of the species cultivated for food and forage are Old World in origin. The common vetch (V. sativa), also called spring vetch, is a purple- or pink-flowered climber native to Europe, where it is grown for fodder. It is extensively grown on the Pacific coast and in other sections of the United States for green fodder and hay and as a cover and green-manure crop. The hairy vetch (V. villosa), used almost as widely, is a hardy biennial with narrower, silvery leaves and blue flowers. Valued as an enricher of the nitrogen content of soil, it grows almost anywhere in the United States and is considered the best legume to plant where red clover does not thrive. It is also known as sand, Siberian, Russian, and winter vetch. Vetch seed is often inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria when grown in soil of low fertility. In areas of grain cultivation vetches sometimes escape into grainfields and become weedy pests. In Europe the principal cultivated species of Vicia is the broad bean (V. faba), the only edible bean native to the Old World. Tare is a common name sometimes used as a synonym for any vetch, most frequently for the common vetch. Vetches are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.


See bulletins of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

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There are edible kinds like Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), Bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia), and toxic kinds like Crown vetch (Securigera varia) which has flowers that look like clover that can slow the pulse and even cause death. Vetch leaves all have the trademark little thin leaves sticking out 90 degrees along both sides of the leaf stem. Know which kind you are dealing with. As for the edible kinds, you can eat the tiny little mustard-like seeds, they are full of powerful nutrition, despite their size. They can be chewed when fresh in summer. When they dry in the fall, they become really hard and need to be soaked first.



some species of grassy plant of the genus of sweet peas Vicia, family Leguminosae. The name “vetch” is prevalent in agriculture. Twelve cultivated species of vetch are known, in addition to which there are some wild species. The most widespread types are common vetch or tare and hairy or sand vetch. Common vetch (Vicia sativa) has been known as a cultivated plant since the time of ancient Rome. In the USSR it is cultivated in the forest and forest-steppe zones of the European part, in Siberia, and in the Caucasus. The stem of a vetch plant is 40-110 cm tall, thin, and ramose; in a young plant it is straight, but later it bends downward and attaches itself to a surface by means of leafy tendrils. The flowers (numbering one, two, or three) rest on the axil of the leaves..The corolla is violet-purple, lilac, or pink in color. The beans are of an elongated rhombic shape and contain four to ten seeds. The weight of 1,000 seeds is 50-60 g. Vetch is sown as seed early in the season and as green grass, hay, and silage mixed with oats and less often with barley at different times during the season. In the regions with nonblack soil it is often used as a fallow crop, and in the southern regions, where the soil has ample moisture, it is used as a stubble crop. The harvest of vetch grain reaches 20 centners per hectare (ha) and 200-250 centners per ha for verdure. One hundred kg of verdure contains 20 units of fodder and 3.8 kg of digestible protein; 100 kg of hay contains 45.8 units of fodder and 12.3 kg of digestible protein. Approximately 40 selected and local types of vetch have been distinguished.

Hairy vetch (V. villosa) is cultivated in the USSR in Byelorussia, in the Ukraine, in the Northern Caucasus, and in several central raions of the RSFSR. It is sown as verdure mixed with winter rye or wheat. The harvest of verdure is approximately 200 centners per ha. It sometimes interferes with the sowing of winter grains.


Flora SSSR, vol. 13. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Kormovye rasteniia senokosov i pastbishch SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951.
Mitrofanova, A. S., and M. M. Rozhkova. Vika (iarovaia i ozimaia). Moscow, 1961.

R. Iu. Guss


Any of a group of mostly annual legumes, especially of the genus Vicia, with weak viny stems terminating in tendrils and having compound leaves; some varieties are grown for their edible seed.


1. any of various climbing leguminous plants of the temperate genus Vicia, esp V. sativa, having pinnate leaves, typically blue or purple flowers, and tendrils on the stems
2. any of various similar and related plants, such as Lathyrus sativus, cultivated in parts of Europe, and the kidney vetch
3. the beanlike fruit of any of these plants
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