Common Vetch: Vicia sativa
||Weed Description: A trailing or
climing summer annual vine with leaves that are divided into many leaflets. The
vetches are common weeds of roadsides, pastures, landscapes, ornamentals, and some of the
winter annuals are weeds of winter small grains. Common vetch is found throughout
Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama.
No distinct cotyledons emerge. First true leaves have 1 pair of oppositely
arranged linear leaflets.
|Leaves: Each leaf
is arranged alternately along the stem and occurs on a petiole. Leaves are divided
into 8 to 16 leaflets that are arranged oppositely from one another (pinnately compound
leaves). Leaflets are oblong to elliptic in outline, either without hairs (glabrous)
or with some short hairs, approximately 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches long. Stipules normally
occur at the base of the leaf petiole. These stipules range from 2 to 10 mm in
length, appear to be 'toothed,' and have brown to purple glandular nectaries (stipules are
illustrated in the picture below). Older leaves develop tendrils that help in
Roots: A fibrous root
||Stems: Stems climb on other
vegetation or trail along the ground. Stems may reach as much as 3 1/2 feet in
length. Stems may have short hairs or may be without hairs (glabrous).
|Flowers: Occur in the area
between the stems and leaf petioles (leaf axils). Flowers occur in pairs and on
flower stalks (peduncles) that range from 2 to 6 mm in length. Flower petals are
usually purple in color but may be rose or sometimes white in color. Flowers are
approximately 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long.
A flat pod (more correctly called a legume), from 1 1/2 to 3 inches long and 5 to 8
The leaves that are divided into 8 to 16 leaflets, the distinct stipule that occurs at the
base of the leaf petiole, and the climbing or trailing growth habit are all
characteristics that help to distinguish common vetch from most other weed species.
Many other annual and perennial vetches occur in Virginia and the southeastern United
States. They are primarily distinguished by leaflet shape and flower