Common vetch

Common Name:

vetch, common

Scientific Name:

Vicia sativa






Common annual vetch species. Trailing, prostrate growth habit developing a dense smothering ground cover. Stems glabrous, green, thin. Leaves pinnately compound 5 to 8 cm in length with 10 to 16 leaflets. Leaflets linear with pinnate venation. A single tendril extends from the end of the leaf used for climbing. Flowers solitary, purple with prominent banner wings and keel.


All vetch species are very similar and are most easy differentiated by comparing flowers. Common vetch and purple vetch are very similar. Purple vetch produces a cluster of tubular purple flowers while common vetch produces solitary larger purple flowers. Common vetch is often planted as a winter cover crops for winter weed control and nitrogen fixation. Also planted along roadsides as a ground cover.