Vicia sativa is an annual herbaceous vine, to 1 m tall, slender, erect to climbing; stipules, irregular, with distinct purple (or dark) patch, margin toothed.
Leaves alternate, pinnate, terminal leaflet a branched or simple tendril, leaflets 4-8 pairs, 1-3.5 cm long, tip blunt or slightly notched, with a very small, pointed tip.
Flowers purple-violet, 2-3 cm long, pea flower-shaped, in upper leaf axils, paired or solitary, calyx lobes linear; blooming June-Aug. Flowers visited by bees, including Apis mellifera, Bombus sp. and butterflies. However, anthers shed pollen while flowers are in bud, producing automatic self-pollination (Aarssen et al. 1986).
Fruit dry, hollow pod, flat, narrow, 3-7 cm long, 4-12 seeds, Aug. Sept. Seeds eaten by some birds and rodents (Martin et al 1951).
Wetland status: FACU-.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Habitat: Agricultural escapee in meadows, roadsides, along horse trails.
Ecological notes: Poisonous, contains beta-cyano-L-alanine (Kingsbury 1964). Roots attacked by the nematodes Heterodera soettingiana, Pratylenchus thornei, Meloidogyne arenaria and M. hapla. Infected by clover yellow mosaic virus which causes death of leaves and stems; the pea enation mosaic virus which causes leaf-like outgrowths; the Alsike clover mosaic virus and the bacterium Pseudomonas stizolobii. Infected by the fungi Ascochyta punctata, Botrytis cinerea, B. fabae, Colletotrichum sativum, an anthracnose, (Deuteromycotina), and Uromyces fabae (Basidiomycotina). Seeds eaten by the beetle Bruchus brachialis (Aarssen et al. 1986).