Narrow-leaved Vetch

Vicia sativa ssp. nigra (L.) Ehrh.

Synonyms - Vicia angustifolia, Vicia sativa ssp. angustifolia (L.) Gaudich.

Family: - Fabaceae.


Vicia is the Latin name for vetch.

Narrow-leaved Vetch, Narrow-leafed Tare.


A trailing or climbing, sparsely hairy, leguminous annual vine with purple pea type flowers and leaves that end in branched tendrils and have 3-10 pairs of leaflets. The pods turn blackish on maturity.



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. Tip pointed. Sides convex. Base tapered.


Alternate. Does not form a rosette. 4-7 pairs of narrow, elliptic to parallel sided leaflets terminating in a branched tendril.

Stipules - 3-8 mm long with an egg shaped yellowish gland. Few or no teeth.

Petiole - Yes.

Blade - Of leaflet, 8-20 mm long, 1-4 mm wide, upper leaflets much longer and narrower than Common vetch. Tip flat to tapered with a sharp point where the midrib extends beyond the blade. Sides parallel to convex. Base tapered. Surface hairy to hairless but usually sparsely hairy.


Twining. Up to 1m long. Square with lengthwise ridges. Branch from base. Sparsely hairy or hairless.

Flower head:

Single or in pairs in upper leaf axils and stalkless or almost so.


Magenta to purple pea-type flowers.

Ovary - Style thread like, bearded in upper part.

Calyx - 3 veined, cylindrical, ribbed, slightly inflated on one side.7-10 mm long with the tube 5-7 mm long. Lobes almost equal, tapering, shorter than the tube, Hairless to slightly furry.

Petals - 10-20 mm long, purple. Standard slightly longer than the wings or keel.

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

Anthers -


Cylindrical pod, 25-50 mm long. About 8 seeds per pod. Smaller and narrower than Common vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. sativa). Turns black as it matures. Not constricted between the seeds. Usually hairless.


Globular to flattened, smooth, oblong. 2.5-4 mm diameter


Taproot with N fixing nodules.

Key Characters:

Weak climbing herb.

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

Stems terete to angular.

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

Style filiform, bearded in upper part.

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

Pod compressed, 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 WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:




Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed.

Origin and History:



WA and probably other states.



Temperate. Mediterranean.


Plant Associations:




Weed of other roadsides, wetlands, gardens and disturbed areas.


Possibly toxic. May contain gluco-alkaloids and neurotoxic cyanoamino acids in the seed. Field cases are rare.



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) is similar but the pods are larger and yellow-brown and the upper leaflets are not as long or narrow. It has leaves 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.

Hairy Vetch (Vicia hirsuta) has an elongated inflorescence of several small flowers each only 2-3 mm long and small, 6-9 mm long hairy seed pods.

Horse Bean (Vicia faba var. equina)

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.


Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P492-493

Gardner, G.A. and Bennetts, H.W. (1956). The toxic plants of Western Australia. (West Australian Newspapers Ltd, Perth). P114.

Harden, Gwen J. (1991). Flora of NSW. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney). Volume 2. P448. Diagram.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). p325.

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). P308-309.


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