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 genus ‘Vicia’ (5).
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).
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).
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.
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
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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