Fabaceae-vicia2018-05-27T16:25:48+00:00

Fabaceae: Pea Family — Vicia (Vetch)

American Vetch – Vicia americana subsp. americana

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

< 1 m

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open, moist woodland, disturbed areas

Notes:

Easily confused with Pacific Pea (Lathyrus vestitus) but with some subtle differences.  First, there are only 3–9 blue-purple to lavender flowers in the inflorescence (vs 8–15 for Pacific Pea). Secondly, the banner is bent back but to varying degrees (vs bent back about 90°).  Thirdly, the style has hairs surrounding the tip (vs being limited to one side). Fourthly, leaf stipules are consistently star-shaped with several pointed lobes. Fifthly, there can be as many as 16 leaflets on each leaf (vs a maximum of 12) with tips that may be acute, truncate, notched or toothed (vs tips that are rounded to obtuse),

Purple Vetch – Vicia benghalensis

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

1–2 m

Flower Size:

Medium Cluster

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Grassland, roadsides, disturbed places

Notes:

Not unlike Winter Vetch (Vicia villosa subsp. varia) in appearance but there are significant differences. First, it has fewer leaflets (4–8 pairs as against 6–12). Secondly it has fewer (3–10 as against 10–20) flowers which are dark or red-purple rather than lavender (the photo on the right show both subspecies for comparison).  Thirdly, the stems and leaves are noticeably hairy as is the flower tube and the long, linear calyx lobes are prominently plumose.

Note: Yeager & Mitchell’s Monterey County Wildflowers – a Field Guide incorrectly identifies this plant as Woolly Vetch (Vicia villosa subsp. villosa).

Giant Vetch – Vicia gigantea

Blooms:

Mar–Aug

Plant Height:

1–2 m

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Moist places in chaparral, coastal scrub or forest

Notes:

Like Winter and Woolly Vetch (Vicia villosa), this has flowers confined to one side if its axis, sometimes appearing as rather tight, more or less rounded clusters. There are 6–15 flowers, reddish purple turning black with age. There are 16–24 leaflets with rounded to acute tips. Fruits are pendulous clusters of 2–4.5 cm long flattish, typical pea-like, pods.

Hairy Vetch – Vicia hirsuta

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

20–70 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Disturbed sites in scrub & woodland

Notes:

This can be quite a bushy plant and spreads aggressively.  It may be finely hairy or more or less glabrous. Flowers are tiny, white or pale blue, usually 2–3 mm long in cluster of 2–8.  Fruits are noticeably hairy and 6–10 mm long.  Leaves have 5–8 pairs of narrow leaflets.

Slender Vetch – Vicia ludoviciana subsp. ludoviciana

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

30–100 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Many communities

Notes:

This is a sprawling or low-climbing vetch with 1–3 small (4.5–7 mm) pale blue flowers. Leaves have 2–5 pairs of narrowly oblong leaflets. Fruits are a typical pea-like pod, glabrous and 1.5–2.5 cm long.

Narrow-leaved Vetch / Smaller Common Vetch – Vicia sativa subsp. nigra

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Grassland, roadsides, open areas in oak and riparian woodland

Notes:

A common sprawling or climbing vetch with 1–3 pink-purple flowers, 10–18 mm tall. Leaves have 4–7 pairs of linear to lance-oblong leaflets, 4–10 × as long as wide. Any confusion with Spring Vetch (subsp. sativa) can be avoided not just by the different size and color of the flowers but also by examining the calyx lobes.  Those on Narrow-leaved Vetch are shorter than the calyx tube, those on Spring Vetch are longer.

Spring Vetch – Vicia sativa subsp. sativa

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Grassland, roadsides, open areas in oak and riparian woodland

Notes:

Another common sprawling or climbing vetch with 1–3 flowers, 18–30 mm tall. Flowers are bicolored, dark red-purple with pink-lavender on the wings. Leaves have 4–7 pairs of wedge-shaped to oblong leaflets, 2–6 × as long as wide. Any confusion with Narrow-leaved Vetch (subsp. nigra) can be avoided not just by the different size and color of the flowers but also by examining the calyx lobes.  Those on Spring Vetch are longer than the calyx tube, those on Narrow-leaved Vetch are shorter.

Winter Vetch – Vicia villosa subsp. varia

Blooms:

May–June

Plant Height:

60–120 cm

Flower Size:

Medium Cluster

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Grassland, roadsides, disturbed places

Notes:

A very common vetch, flowering in summer despite its common name (deriving from its use as a winter cover crop).  Its blue-purple or lavender and white flowers (generally 10–20) are concentrated on one side of the long axis. Leaves have 8–12 pairs of linear leaflets. Calyx lobes are narrowly lanceolate and 1–2.5 mm long. Woolly Vetch (subsp. villosa) is similar but with more flowers (generally > 19), hairier stems and leaves and linear and longer (2–4 mm) calyx lobes.  Woolly Vetch appears to be uncommon in the county, mainly found in the Fort Hunter Liggett area.