Lathyrus pratensis L. - Meadow Vetchling.

Taxonomic position.

Family Fabaceae Lindl. genus Lathyrus L.

Main synonyms.

Orobus pratensis (L.) Doll

Morphology and biology.

Perennial plant 40-100 cm tall with prostrate, climbing or ascending stem clinging by means of leaf tendrils. Stem 4-angular. Stipules large, 0.5-3.5 cm long, up to 1 cm wide, semisagittate or obliquely semisagittate. Leaf petiole wingless, leaf rachis ends with branched tendril. Leaves consist of 1 pair of oblong-lanceolate leaflets 2-4 cm long, 5-10 mm wide. Leaflets sharpened, with 3-5 distinct veins. Peduncles slightly bent, longer than leaves. Inflorescence a many-flowered rather lax raceme of 5-10 flowers. Flowers 1-1.5 cm long, corolla bright yellow. Bracts small, linear. Calyx campanulate, with unequal teeth shorter than tube. Standard oval, abruptly narrowed into unguis; wings as long as standard, on thin bent unguis; keel broadly lanceolate, on thin long unguis. Pods oblong-linear, sessile, 2.5-3.5 cm long, about 0.5 cm wide, abruptly narrowed into short beak, 8-10-seeded. Valves with distinct reticular venation. Seeds orbicular, slightly compressed, red-brown, with dark marble runs, nitid, smooth. 2n=14, 28 (16, 21, 42). Flowers in May, fruits in July - August.


General distribution: throughout Europe; throughout Caucasus; Iran; Mongolia; China; Japan; West Himalayas; North Africa. Former USSR: All regions of European part, Caucasus and West Siberia; East Siberia: Yenisei, Angara-Sayans, Daurian regions; Central Asia: Aral-Caspian, Balkhash, Tien Shan regions.


In meadows, forest glades and fringes, shrubberies.

Use and economic value.

High-protein forage hay and grazing plant, eaten by cattle. Especially significant for cultivation in long-term meadows since it persists in herbage for a long time (ten years or more) after sowing. Melliferous.


Galushko AI. 1980. Flora of the North Caucasus: Handbook. V.2. P.167. (In Russian).
Grossheim AA. 1952. Flora of Caucasus. 2nd ed. V.5. P.405. (In Russian).
Wulf EV., Maleyeva OF. 1969. The world resources of useful plants (food, forage, technical, medicine, etc.). Reference book. Leningrad: Nauka. P.232. (In Russian).
Fedorov AA., Tzvelev NN., eds. 1987. Flora of the European part of the USSR. V.6. Leningrad: Nauka. P.151. (In Russian).
Shishkin BK., Bobrov EG., ed. 1948. Flora URSS. V.13. P.492-493. (In Russian).
Cherepanov SK. 1995. Vascular plants of Russia and adjacent states (the former USSR). St.Petersburg. 990 p. (In Russian).

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© Photo by I.G.Chukhina

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