Bona narbonensis (L.) Medik.
Vicia serratifolia auct.
Vicia serratifolia salmonea Mouterde
Common Name: French Vetch
Vicia narbonensis is a vigorous annual to biennial plant with erect, firm stems that are usually unbranched; it can grow 30 - 100cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is cultivated as a green manure plant. A parent of the cultivated broad bean (Vicia faba) it is occasionally cultivated as a food crop in Mediterranean and Near East countries from France and Spain to Turkey, northern Iraq and Syria[
Vicia narbonensis is very widely distributed in Europe, western and central Asia and northern Africa. Populations appear to be stable throughout its range and it has no apparent major threats. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Plants can become weeds in cultivated fields[
Europe - Hungary, Spain to Bulgaria; N. Africa - Morocco to Egypt; Asia - Turkey south to Israel, east to C. Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan
Thickets, damp fields and ditches[
]. Grassy places, forest areas and fields[
]. Weedy and moist places,; at elevations up to 1,500 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
Vicia narbonensis is a plant of the temperate zone, often in semi-arid areas. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 10 - 24°c, but can tolerate 4 - 32°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 - 800mm, but tolerates 300 - 1,000mm[
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[
]. Succeeds in poor soils[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7, tolerating 6 - 7.5[
This species is probably a parent of the cultivated broad bean, Vicia faba[
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[
]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Seed - cooked[
]. Of excellent quality[
]. The seed is 3 - 5mm in diameter[
]. The seed has a somewhat bitter flavour - this can be removed by soaking the seeds prior to cooking and discarding the soakwater[
Used as a vegetable[
]. The reports do not say what part of the plant is used, It is likely to be the leaves.
The species has been strongly recommended in the Near East as a green namure replacement for fallow in the traditional barley-fallow rotation and in Australia where research is directed to eliminate the anti-feedant factor of the grains. Successul cultivation trials are being established in Mediterranean and Near East countries as well[
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.