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Useful Temperate Plants

Vicia ervilia

(L.) Willd.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Ervilia sativa Link.

Ervum ervilia L.

Lens pygmaea Grossh.

Common Name: Bitter Vetch

Vicia ervilia
Drawing of the plant
Photograph by: Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm)
Public domain

General Information

Vicia ervilia is an erect to trailing, few to much-branched annual plant growing 20 - 90cm tall[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Vicia ervilia was one of the earliest cultivated crops in human history, with records dating back to 7,000 BCE[
1128
Title
Revision of Vicia L. (Leguminosae) in Central Anatolia, Turkey.
Publication
 
Author
Okan Kaan Binzat
Website
http://etd.lib.metu.edu.tr/upload/12615083/index.pdf
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A thesis submitted to the Graduate School of Natural and Allpied Sciences of Middle east Technical University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
]. Though it has largelt fallen out of favour as a food crop, it is still cultivated as a minor food crop of diminishing importance in the Mediterranean area, in Near and Middle East countries, formerly also in southern parts of Central Europe and sometimes in western USA. The recent main producer is Turkey, from which grains are exported to W Europe. Nowadays it is used mainly as a forage plant (green fodder, grains, especially for sheep)[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
Vicia ervilia is a widespread species with no apparent threats and a stable population trend. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
The plant is often found as a weed amongst cereal crops[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Known Hazards

One report says that the seed might be poisonous[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].
The seeds are considered poisonous to pigs and are dangerous to cattle at the time when the pods are nearing maturity and are still moist[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Botanical References

50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
1128
Title
Revision of Vicia L. (Leguminosae) in Central Anatolia, Turkey.
Publication
 
Author
Okan Kaan Binzat
Website
http://etd.lib.metu.edu.tr/upload/12615083/index.pdf
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A thesis submitted to the Graduate School of Natural and Allpied Sciences of Middle east Technical University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences

Range

Mediterranean - Portugal to Bulgaria; Macaronesia to Egypt; Levant; W. Asia - Turkey, Caucasus to Kazakhstan and Afghanistan

Habitat

Disturbed ground[
45
Title
Flowers of Greece and the Balkans.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1980
ISBN
0-19-217626-9
Description
A good pocket flora, it also lists quite a few plant uses.
]. Mountain slopes, in coppiced oak and on fields; at elevations from 800 - 1,100 metres in Iraq[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Scrubland, stoney slopes, screes, field and vineyard margins, roadsides and disturbed areas' at elevations to 2,000 metres[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual
Height0.60 m
PollinatorsInsects
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Vicia ervillia is a plant of the Mediterranean and semi-arid climates in the temperate zone, where it is found at elevations up to 1,100 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 12 - 22°c, but can tolerate 5 - 28°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -10°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 700mm, but tolerates 300 - 1,200mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
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[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].. Prefers a pH in the range 7 - 7.5, tolerating 5.6 - 8.2[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The plant is resistant to drought even during the early growing period[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Cultivated for its edible seed in France[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
].
Vicia ervilia belongs to the old Near East crop assemblage, prehistoric remains are known from the 7/6th mill. BC from Anatolia and Greece, later also from Bulgaria and the Transcaucasus. The past centre of cultivation included the Levante, Turkey, SE Europe and domestication took place presumably in Anatolia. Here is also the centre of variation of this crop[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
Annual yielsa of seeds may be 0.4 - 3 tonnes per hectare[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
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[
755
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
]. 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.

Edible Uses

Seed - cooked[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
]. Used as a lentil[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
], it is occasionally eaten in soups[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. More likely to be eaten in times of food shortage when little else is available[
1127
Title
Single-flowered vetch (Vicia articulata Hornem.): A relic crop in Italy
Publication
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 47: 461-465, 2000
Author
Laghetti G.; Piergiovanni A.R.; Galasso I.; Hammer K. & Perr
Publisher
 
Year
200
ISBN
 
Description
 
]. The seeds are 3 - 5mm in diameter[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal

None known

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant can be used as a green manure[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Other Uses

Vicia ervilia is in the tertiary gene pool of Common Vetch V. sativa, and more remotely Hungarian Vetch V. pannonica and Winter Vetch V. villosa, it is also a tertiary wild relative of Faba Bean V. faba, Narbon Bean V. narbonensis (Maxted 1993, 1995). It belongs to the secondary Taxon Group of Articulated Vetch V. articulata and to Taxon Group 1B of cultivated Bitter Vetch V. ervilia (Kupicha 1976). As a result is has the potential for use as a gene donor for crop improvement[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Propagation

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.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2023-01-30. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Vicia+ervilia>

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