Cracca calcarata (Desf.) Gren. & Godr.
Ervum calcaratum Trautv.
Vicia biflora Desf.
Vicia calcarata Desf.
Vicia cinerea M.Bieb.
Vicia griffithii Baker
Vicia triflora Ten.
Common Name: Hard Vetch
Vicia monantha is an annual plant with a trailing stem 80 - 160cm long, exceptionally to 200cm, growing from a deep, branched rooting system[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is often grown as a green manure crop, and was at one time cultivated as a food crop in the oases of the Sahara, though is probably no longer cultivated for this purpose[
The seeds contain the anti-nutritional compound L-canavanine, a competitive inhibitor of arginine decarboxylase. This is removed by soaking the seeds in water prior to cooking and discarding the soak water.
Europe - Estonia, Lithuania, Spain, Greece, Italy; N. Africa - Canaries, Morocco to Egypt; W. Asia - Turkey, south to Arabia, east to C. Asia, India
Eroded hills, rolling plains, valleys and wadis; at elevations up to 600 metres in Iraq[
]. Shrub steppes in Israel.
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Vicia monantha is a plant of the Mediterranean and semi-arid areas in the temperate zone, where it is found at elevations up to 600 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 10 - 18°c, but can tolerate 4 - 26°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 700mm, but tolerates 350 - 1,230mm[
Species in this genus generally succeed in any well-drained soil in a sunny position if the soil is reliably moist throughout the growing season, otherwise they are best grown in semi-shade[
]. The plant grows best in sandy soils, though also succeeds in clay[
]. Plants are drought tolerant[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 7.5[
It is not known which form of this plant was cultivated as a seed crop - it was possibly Vicia monantha triflora, which has larger seeds[
Annual seed yields may be 0.1 - 1.8 tonnes per hectare[
According to one report, this species is no more than a synonym of Vicia articulata[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Seed - cooked[
]. The thick floury lentil-like seeds can be boiled as a vegetable or used as a flavouring and thickener in soups[
Can be used as a green manure[
Seed - sow in situ in spring or autumn. The seed has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.