Tufted vetch (Vicia cracca)

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Tufted vetch in flower
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Tufted vetch fact file

Tufted vetch description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderFabales
FamilyFabaceae
GenusVicia (1)

Tufted vetch is a common scrambling or climbing member of the pea family (Fabaceae) (4). The leaves and stems are fairly hairy, and there are numerous branched clinging tendrils that provide aid in climbing (2). The drooping bluish-purple flowers occur in long, one-sided clusters known as racemes (5). Between four and eight seeds are produced in a pod with a nail or claw-like tip (2). The name ‘vetch’ is derived from the Latin name of the genusVicia(5).

Size
Size: 60 – 200 cm (2)
Leaflet length: 5 – 30 mm (2)
Flower diameter: 8 – 12 mm (2)
Length of seed pod: 10 – 20 mm (2)
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Tufted vetch biology

This perennial climbing herb flowers from May to August, with the seeds ripening from July to September. The flowers are pollinated by bees and flies (6).

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Tufted vetch range

Common and widespread throughout much of Britain up to altitudes of 550 m (3). It is also found in Greenland, throughout Europe, in Asia as far east as Japan and has been introduced to North America (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Tufted vetch habitat

Tufted vetch occurs in a range of habitats including road verges, hedgerows, river banks, scrubby grassland, and the borders of woodlands. It can not tolerate permanently wet habitats but is found in marshes, some fens, hay meadows and permanent pastures (3).

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Tufted vetch status

Common and widespread: not threatened (3).

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Tufted vetch threats

This species is not threatened.

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Tufted vetch conservation

Conservation action is not required for this common species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more on British native plants and for details of how to get involved in plant conservation visit the website of Plantlife, the wild plant charity:
www.plantlife.org.uk

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Perennial
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
Raceme
An inflorescence where the individual flowers all have distinct stalks. (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2003):
    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G., and Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. and Dines, T.D. (2002) New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Stace, C. (1991) New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  5. Grigson, G. (1996) The Englishman’s Flora. Helicon Publishing, Ltd., Oxford.
  6. Plants for a Future (December 2003):
    http://www.scs.leeds.ac.uk/pfaf/index.html
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Image credit

Tufted vetch in flower  
Tufted vetch in flower

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