Common vetch

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated April 2019.

Scientific name: Vicia sativa L.

Common name(s): common vetch, garden vetch, tare

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)



-herbaceous vine


  • foliar tendrils

-flowers April-June

  • flowers can be blue/purple/white

-leaves are compound and alternate

  • 8-16 leaflets

-fruit is a legume


-disturbed areas

-meadows and fields

-open sites

-river shores


-insect pollinates

-attracts bees

-seeds are dispersed by an explosion of the legumes

-can be cultivated with crops to increase soil fertility

  • fixes nitrogen

Natural History:

-native to Europe

-leaves are edible and can be made into tea

-seeds can be dried and used as a protein supplement

  • seeds are also known to contain some toxins



Go Botany. “Vicia Sativa L.” Vicia Sativa (Common Vetch): Go Botany, 2020,

Burnham, Robyn J. “Vicia Sativa.” CLIMBERS, University of Michigan, 29 July 2013,