Vicia villosa Roth. - Hairy vetch

Taxonomic position.

Family Fabaceae Lindl., tribeVicieae, genus Vicia L.


Russian vetch, winter vetch.

Morphology and biology.

This is an annual (bi-annual) plant. It has an advanced root system: thin taproot and many lateral rootlets. Stalk is 2-6 mm in diameter, 80-200 cm tall, angled, densely pubescent, branching (3-10 shoots), lodging. Leaves paripinnate with 6-10 pairs of linear-lanceolate, oblong, blunt or pointed, green or greenish, glaucous leaflets, which terminate in tenacious multifid cirruses. Stipules are 5-8 mm long, semi-sagittal, sub-dentate; top stipules are lanceolate, integral. Leafstalk is 8-13 cm long, angulated, frequently coated with anthocyan. Inflorescence is long, multi-floral cluster (up to 25-35 flowers) in axil of top leaves. Flower stalk is longer than leaves. Calyx is bell-shaped, strongly curved, oblique, with dispersed pubescence. Flowers are papilionaceous, 15-18 (20) mm long. Corolla is bluish-violet, purple-violet, pink and sometimes white. Cross-pollinated, entomophilous plant, but self-pollination is also possible. Beans oblong-rhombic, wide and short, up to 4 cm long, up to 12 mm wide, light yellow or brown in color, thin-skinned, glabrous, with 4-8 spherical or slightly impressed seeds 2-5 mm in diameter. Seeds are black or brown in color, sometimes grey or olive-brown, with points or spots. Weight of 1000 seeds is 20-40 g. Grades include: Glinkovskaja, Lugovskaja, Siverskaja 2, Kaliningradskaja 6, Yubileinaja, Beregovaja mestnaja, Dneprovskaja, Stavchanka, Turkmenskaja mestnaja, Cheboksarka. Chromosome number: 2n=14.


The native land of this species is Southern Europe and Asia where the species grows as a wild plant. It had appeared in Russia by 1784 (from Latvia). Cultivation began in the beginning of the 20th century. In the countries of the former USSR, it is cultivated in small areas in Byelorussia, Moldova, the Baltic States, forest-steppe Ukraine, central Russia, the Northern Caucasus, and in Central Asia. It is distributed as far north as the Arkhangelsk area.


This plant prefers long days and is sensitive to changes in day length. Because it requires much light, in densely planted crops it branches poorly and drops leaves and inflorescences early. The most vigorous germination occurs at temperatures of 10-15°C. It is rather cold-resistant. It tolerates frosts and snow cover. Shoots and leaves do not die off in the winter; they growth together with new, more powerful shoots, which appear in the spring. Shoots may tolerate short-term drops in temperature up to minus 1-3°C. Optimum temperature during formation of hay cutting mass is 18-20°C. Seed maturity requires a sum of active temperatures of 1200-1300°C. General vegetation lasts 214-301 days. It is more drought-resistant than Common Vetch, but before flowering, it is sensitive to lack of moisture. During flowering and formation of beans, a surplus of moisture is undesirable. It is rather undemanding to soil. It grows better in well-fertilized soil with a light mechanical structure. It prefers sub-acidic and neutral soil (pH 5.9-6.3). Nodule bacteria develop on roots of this plant. It exists in summer, semi-winter and winter forms.

Economic use.

This valuable fodder plant is usually planted with early green forage and hay and is used as green fertilizer. Seeds contain 32.8% protein; green mass contains 18.4% protein. Productivity of green mass at the beginning of flowering is 5-8.5 tons per hectare; later in the season, productivity reaches 20-30 tons per hectare; productivity of seeds is 0.4-0.9 tons per hectare. May produces two solid hay crops. It is cultivated in a mix with supporting cultures, including rye, winter wheat and rape.

Reference citations:

Korenev, G.V., Kostromin, V.M. 1975. Hairy vetch. Moscow.
Korenev, G.V., Zhitinm J.I., ShChedrina, D.I. 1990. Hairy vetch. Lucerne. Voronezh.
Kurlovich, B.S., Rep'ev, S.I., eds. 1995. Genofund and selection of grain leguminous cultures (lupin, vetch, soya, string bean). Theoretical bases of selection. V. 3. St. Petersburg.
Leokene, L.V. 1964. Common vetch and Hairy vetch. Leningrad.
Rep'ev, S.I. & A.K. Stankevich. 1999. Cultural flora. V. 4, Part 2. In: Rep.ev S.I., ed. Vetch. St. Petersburg. 183, 370-376 p.
Shtan'ko, K.T. 1958. The biology of Hairy vetch. Scientific notes of Petrozavodsk University. V. 9. Number 3. Biology and agricultural sciences. 57-66 p.
Suvorov, V.V. 1959. Hairy Vetch. Leningrad.
Vehov, V.N., Gubanov, I.A., Lebedeva, G.F. 1978. Cultural plants of the USSR. Moscow.

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