AskDefine | Define vetch

Dictionary Definition

vetch n : any of various climbing plants of the genus Vicia having pinnately compound leaves that terminate in tendrils and small variously colored flowers; includes valuable forage and soil-building plants

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Any of several leguminous plants, of the genus Vicia, often grown as green manure and for their edible seeds.


  • Czech: vikev
  • Dutch: wikke
  • Finnish: virna
  • French: vesce
  • German: Wicke
  • Lithuanian: vikis
  • Polish: wyka
  • Spanish: vezo, arveja

Extensive Definition

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.
Vicia ervilia is one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East.
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).
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)


External links

commons Vicia
vetch in Arabic: البيقة
vetch in Catalan: Vicia
vetch in German: Wicken (Vicia)
vetch in Spanish: Vicia
vetch in Esperanto: Vicio
vetch in French: Vesce
vetch in Upper Sorbian: Woka
vetch in Latin: Vicia (genus)
vetch in Lithuanian: Vikis
vetch in Dutch: Wikke
vetch in Norwegian: Vikker
vetch in Polish: Wyka
vetch in Portuguese: Vicia
vetch in Romanian: Vicia
vetch in Russian: Горошек (растение)
vetch in Slovak: Vika (rod)
vetch in Swedish: Vickrar

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

algae, autophyte, bean, bracken, brown algae, climber, conferva, confervoid, creeper, diatom, fern, fruits and vegetables, fucus, fungus, grapevine, green algae, gulfweed, herb, heterophyte, ivy, kelp, legume, lentil, liana, lichen, liverwort, mold, moss, mushroom, parasite, parasitic plant, pea, perthophyte, phytoplankton, planktonic algae, plant families, puffball, pulse, red algae, rockweed, rust, saprophyte, sargasso, sargassum, sea lentil, sea moss, sea wrack, seaweed, smut, succulent, toadstool, vine, wort, wrack
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