Vicia (Vetches) is a large genus of about 140 species of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae, native to Europe, Asia and Africa. One species, Vicia faba, commonly known as Broad Bean or fava bean is cultivated for human consumption, while a number of other species Vicia sativa, Vicia ervilia, Vicia articulata Hornem. and Vicia narbonensis are cultivated as forage and grain legume for livestock or green manure. Vicia villosa, Vicia benghalensis and Vicia pannonica are cultivated for forage and green manure. Other species are wild flowers. Some have been identified as sources for unusual lectins [proteins which bind specific sugars].
Vicia ervilia is one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East.
Certain species of vetch are suitable for consumption by ruminant animals, but not for single-stomach animals including humans, due to a toxin. However, split vetch seed (Vicia sativa) resembles split red lentils (Lens culinaris), and cases have been reported of vetch being deliberately mislabelled (by exporters or importers) and sold for human consumption to countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt, which are traditional consumers of lentils. This has resulted in import bans by those countries. (ref. Vetch Scandal)
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Vicia (classical Latin name). Vetch. Tare. Mostly weedy or insignificant-looking plants, but a few are grown for the bright flowers, others of late for green-manure crops (see Cover-crops), and one (V. Faba) is a garden bean.
Herbs, mostly climbing, with pinnate foliage, closely allied to Lathyrus, Pisum, and Lens, but differing in minute floral characters: wings adhering to the keel; style very slender, with beard or hairs all around the upper part or only at the apex: pod flat, 2- to many- seeded, 2-valved, and dehiscent, the seeds either globular or flattish; stamens diadelphous (9 and 1): fls. mostly blue or violet, sometimes yellowish or white.— About 150 species widely spread in the northern hemisphere and some in S. Amer. About two dozen species occur in N. Amer., some of the species intro. The species are mostly cool-season plants of easy cult. The interest in the vetches in this country is mostly for their value as soil-covers and for foliage. V. sativa and V. villosa are the important species at present for agricultural purposes, and V. Cracca, V. Gerardii, and V. fulgens are sometimes used as ornamentals. For literature, see Farmers' Bulls. Nos. 515 and 529, Bur. Pl. Ind. Circ. No. 15, and U. S. Dept. Agric. Circ. No. 45.
Pests and diseases
Vicia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Chionodes lugubrella (recorded on V. cracca), Angle Shades, Double-striped Pug, The Flame, Lime-speck Pug and two case-bearers of the genus Coleophora which feed exclusively on Vicia: C. cracella and C. fuscicornis (the latter feeds exclusively on V. tetrasperma).
About 140 species, including:
Vicia americana (American Vetch)
Vicia articulata Hornem. (Bard Vetch)
Vicia bithynica (Bithynian Vetch)
Vicia cassubica (Danzig Vetch)
Vicia cracca (Tufted Vetch)
Vicia ervilia (Bitter Vetch)
Vicia faba (Broad Bean)
Vicia hirsuta (Hairy Vetch)
Vicia lathyroides (Spring Vetch)
Vicia lutea (Yellow Vetch)
Vicia monantha (single flowered vetch)
Vicia orobus (Upright Vetch)
Vicia pisiformis (Pea-flowered Vetch)
Vicia sativa (Common Vetch)
Vicia sepium (Bush Vetch)
Vicia sylvatica (Wood Vetch)
Vicia tenuifolia (Fine-leaved Vetch)
Vicia tenuissima (Slender Vetch)
Vicia tetrasperma (Smooth Vetch)
Vicia villosa (Fodder Vetch)
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963
- The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe. Fitter, R. & A., Collins 1974.