Hairy Vetch

Vicia hirsuta (L.) Gray

Family: - Fabaceae.


Vicia is the Latin name for vetch.

Hairy Vetch because the pods are hairy.

Other names:

Hairy Tare.

Tiny Vetch.


A slender, straggling, climbing, hairy or near hairless annual vine, with small, 2-3 mm long, bluish white or pink pea type flowers in an elongated inflorescence in spring producing 6-9 mm long pods. The leaves have 4-12 pairs of narrow leaflets. The stems are angular, branched at the base and up to 700 mm long.

Native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa, it is now a weed of roadsides, waste land and sometimes invades bushland.



Two. Below ground. Tip rounded. Sides convex. Base squarish to rounded. Hairless.

First leaves:

Have only one or two pair of elliptical leaflets with no stipules.


Don't form a rosette. Alternate on central stem. 4-12 pairs of linear oblong leaflets and ending in a slender, usually branched tendril.

Stipules - 2-4 mm long, deeply lobed or toothed on the lower leaves to almost arrow shaped. Those on the upper leaves may be smooth edged.

Petiole - Yes.

Blade - Of leaflets, 5-17 mm long by 1-3 mm wide, narrowly oblong with a flat or notched top and tiny spine formed by the protruding midrib. Base tapered. Surface sparsely hairy.


Slender, angular, weak, sprawling or climbing, up to 700 mm long. Branched at the base.

Flower head:

Flowers on short stalks(pedicels) in groups of 3-8 near the end of an axillary, stalk(peduncle) which is shorter than the leaf. The peduncle is awned at the tip.


Small, 3-6 mm long, very pale, bluish purple or grey-white.

Ovary - Style thread like, bearded in upper part.

Calyx - 2-3 mm long, tubular with teeth. Teeth 1-1.5 mm long, equal, erect, as long as the tube, fine tapering tip. Sparsely hairy. Not gibbous.

Petals - 3-5 mm long. Standard petal white, bluish or pink, 2.5-6 mm long, limb egg shaped. Keel dark tipped. Wings 2 mm long.

Stamens - 10, upper stamen free, other 9 united in an open tube, staminal tube oblique at summit.

Anthers -


Oblong, plump, stalkless pod, 6-15 mm long by 2.5-5 mm wide, hairy. Tip blunt or shortly pointed.


1-2 green, globular seeds per pod.


Taproot with N fixing nodules.

Key Characters:

Weak climbing herb.

Leaves divided into 3-10 pairs of leaflets, paripinnate, terminating in a branched tendril.

Leaflets narrow-linear, truncate apiculate.

Stems terete to angular.

Flowers small, very irregular(zygomorphic), petals unequal, more or less united, the upper one(standard) outside the others in bud.

Flowers 2-3 mm long in 2-12 flowered racemes on long peduncles.

Style filiform, bearded in upper part.

Calyx sparsely hairy, not gibbous.

Calyx lobes 2-3 mm long, equal in length, not villous hairy.

Standard petal white or blue tinged.

Stamens 10, upper stamen free, other 9 united in an open tube, staminal tube oblique at summit.

Pod 8-10 mm long, hairy, compressed, narrowly oblong, obliquely obtuse or shortly acute, 1-2 seeded, 2 valved, dehiscent, not breaking transversely into articles.

Embryo curved.

From J.M. Black, N.T. Burbidge and J.R. Wheeler.


Life cycle:

Annual. Germinates autumn/winter. Flowers in spring.



By seed.

Flowering times:

Spring in western NSW.

September to November in Perth.

Spring and summer in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:




Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed.

Origin and History:

Europe. Western Asia. Northern Africa.



Most parts of Tasmania


Most abundant in damp shady areas.




Flood plains and other soils.

Plant Associations:

River Red Gum.





Common weed of gardens, crops, roadsides, wetlands and disturbed areas.


Not recorded as toxic.



Management and Control:


Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for 5 years by grazing, mowing, pulling or applying herbicides.

Hand spray with 1 g of chlorsulfuron(700g/kg) plus 25 mL wetting agent in 10 L of water or boom spray with 20 g/ha chlorsulfuron(700g/kg) in autumn to early winter each year. Hand pull survivors in spring before seed set.

For small infestations and in grass dominant areas an annual application of 10 mL Tordon®75-D in 10 L water in early winter gives excellent control of existing plants and has residual activity to control seedlings.

In bushland, 200 g/ha Lontrel®750 or 50 g/ha Logran® applied in early winter provides reasonably selective control. For hand spraying use 25 mL wetting agent plus 4 g Lontrel®750 or 1 g Logran® in 10 L water. Repeat annually for several years.

Plant tall growing perennial species to reduce re-invasion.

Metsulfuron also provides good control but is less residual and less selective. It is relatively tolerant to glyphosate.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Broad Bean (Vicia faba var. major)

Common Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. sativa) has leaves are divided like a feather into 3-10 pairs of small narrow leaflets, each 8-30 mm long. It has pink to purple pea flowers, each 10-20 mm long and either single or in few-flowered clusters. The seed pod is narrow, slightly flattened and 30-50 mm long.

Horse Bean (Vicia faba var. equina)

Narrow-leaved Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. nigra)

Narrowleaf Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. angustifolia)

Purple Vetch (Vicia benghalensis, Vicia atropurpurea)

Slender Vetch (Vicia tetrasperma)

Spurred Vetch (Vicia monantha)

Tick Bean (Vicia faba var. minor)

Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)

Woollypod Vetch (Vicia villosa ssp. dasycarpa).

Plants of similar appearance:

Smooth Darling Pea (Swainsona galegifolia) is similar but leaves end in a leaflet not a tendril and flowers in long racemes.

Peas (Pisum sativum).

Lathyrus (Lathyrus spp.) has a single pair of leaflets and winged stems.


Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P476.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P226.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P428. Photo.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P162.

Hyde-Wyatt, B.H. and Morris, D.I. (1975). Tasmanian weed handbook. (Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, Hobart, Tasmania). P103. Diagram.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #1267.7.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P308.


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