Bush Vetch

March 9th, 2012

Latin:  Vicia sepium

Irish:  Peasair fhiáin


This is a native perennial that can be seen, often as dense clumps, in hedges and overgrown grassy areas throughout the country.  It has slightly hairy, straggling stems that grow up to a length of up to 80cm.  The leaves are pinnate, consisting of 5-7 pairs of leaflets that tend to be broadest towards their base.  Each leaf terminates in a branched tendril, a thread-like structure that twines around other plants to climb or for support.

From May onwards, flowers are produced in clusters of 2 to 6.  The plant is a legume like clover or peas and its flowers have the typical irregular structure found in all legumes. There are 5 petals; the flat “standard petal” at the back of the flower, the 2 “wing petals” at the side and a “keel” that is made up of two “lower petals”. These petals are a dull purple in V. sepium.  Small, brown seeds are produced in black pods that are covered with hairs.


Specimens grow at many locations at Castlewarden in hedgerows, waste areas, headlands and virtually any place where grass is allowed to grow tall.

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