Gray, Nat. arr. Brit. Pl. 2:614 (1821).
Synonymy: Ervum hirsutum L., Sp. Pl. 738 (1753).
Common name: Hairy vetch, tiny vetch.
Slender straggly annual, more or less pubescent; branches thin, 20-80 cm long, simple or branched; leaves 3-8 cm long, with 4-10 pairs of leaflets; leaflets linear or ovate-oblong, 5-20 X 1-4 mm, truncate to emarginate, mucronate, with white pilose hairs usually on the lower surface; tendrils slender, mostly branched; stipules to 3 mm long, semisagittate to lanceolate, the lower often few-toothed or somewhat laciniate.
Flowers 3-4 mm long, 3-8 in axillary racemes near the summit of thin peduncles about half as long as the supporting leaf; bract filiform, c. 0.5 mm long, deciduous; calyx campanulate, 1.3-3 mm long, regular, not globose, covered with white spreading hairs, on a c. I mm long pedicel, teeth linear-subulate, subequal, one to one and a half times as long as the tube; petals hardly exceeding the calyx teeth, whitish, glabrous; standard hardly exceeding the wings, ovate, straight, brown-veined; wings narrow-obovate, shortly auriculate; keel shortest, ovate, with a blue tip.
Pod oblong-rhomboid to trapezoid, 6-11 x 2.5-4 mm, contracted between the seeds, appressed-hairy or sometimes subglabrous, grey-brown to brown-black, 1-3-seeded; seed subglobose or slightly compressed, c. 2.5 mm, whitish, greenish or brown, mottled dark, smooth, shiny; hilum linear, about one-third of the perimeter.
Roy-Craig (1954) Drawings Brit. Pl. 7: 58; Chrtková-Zertová (1979) Flora Iranica 140:t. 23, fig. 3.
S.Aust.: FR, EP, NL, YP, SL, SE. all mainland States. native to drier fields and thickets in Europe, western Asia and North Africa from where it has spread to North and South America, Polynesia and New Zealand.
Flowering time: Oct. — Jan.
SA Distribution Map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of South Australia
"A critical group of several species not yet fully understood and frequently misidentified. Flower colour, may be of taxonomic importance" (P.W. Ball (1968) Flora Europaea 2:131.). This species is very polymorphic in which it is particularly difficult, due to inherited variation and phenotypic plasticity, to distinguish between several described varieties, according to Davis & Plitmann (1970) Flora of Turkey 3:281.
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