Flora of Northern Ireland
Vicia sativa
© Graham Day
Vicia sativa
(Map updated: March 2008)

This species actually comprises two plants: a native subsp. nigra and a cultivated forage alien - subsp. sativa. The records in the database do not always distinguish which was recorded, and the map shows records of the two subspecies combined.

The forage plant (subsp. sativa) is very variable but is generally more robust than the native subsp. nigra: it is a tall trailing plant with pinnate leaves which have between 4 and 7 pairs of leaflets and terminal tendrils, and solitary or pairs of beautiful purple flowers, which are succeeded by peapod-type fruits 2 ins (5 cm) long. It is commonly encountered as a relic of cultivation or escape, in grassy places.

The native subsp. nigra is more slender, with very narrow leaflets and smaller flowers and pods. It grows in dry grassy places including sand dunes. Old British and Irish floras treat this as a separate species called Vicia angustifolia.

All names: Vicia sativa L.