Common Vetch - Vicia sativa


Medium to tall clambering, hairy plant. Tendrils are sometimes unbranched. Stipules toothed, with a dark spot near the base. Flowers pink to dark reddish purple, with paler wings 18 to 30 mm long, solitary or two together.

Sub-species nigra has flowers that are uniformly coloured, and with the leaflets of upper leaves much narrower than lower. 

Sub-species sativa (the form cultivated for fodder) has seed-pods constricted between the seeds, and the pods are usually hairy and yellowish to brown.

Similar Species

Bush Vetch has more purplish flowers which turn blue as they age and also has leaves that a wider near the base and slightly pear-shaped.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Calyx teeth more or less equal in length (Bush Vetch has unequal calyx teeth)


Grassy habitats, meadows, roadside verges.

When to see it

April to September.

Life History


UK Status

Common throughout most of Britain.

VC55 Status

Very common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 458 of the 617 tetrads.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map