Hairy Vetch

Credit: 
Gordon Neish
Credit: 
JRJ
Scientific name: 

Vicia villosa Roth ssp villosa

Type: 
Agronomic Legume
Annual precip. min (mm): 
450
Annual precip. max (mm): 
1,650
Seed size: 
Medium
Seeds per kg: 
440,000
PR Suitability note: 
Hairy vetch is winter hardy, but dependent on good snow cover. It is also short-lived (annual-biennial). With these characteristics it is likely to be most appropriate where short term cover and/or erosion control is required.
General Description: 

Hairy vetch is an annual or biennial, hardy, cool season agronomic legume, also commonly referred to as fodder vetch, winter vetch, or sand vetch. It has a weak tap root that grows up to 60 to 90 cm (24 to 35 in.) with many side branches in the top 20 cm (8 in.), and is known as an excellent nitrogen fixer.

Hairy vetch has long trailing stems from 50 to 200 cm (20 to 79 in.) long. Stems are hairy and grow 1 to 3 cm (1/2 to 1 ¼ in.)long leaves on one side of the stem. There are 10 to 20 alternate, oblong leaflets per leaf, with branching tendrils at the ends.

It produces dense, pea-like flowers that range in colour from reddish purple to violet to white. Flowers develop into oblong seed pods, which produce small, black, round seeds that are irregular in size.

Origin: 
Native to Europe and Asia. Now the most commonly used vetch in North America.
Distribution: 
Common in extreme southern British Columbia. Potentially adapted to other areas where introduced.
Habitat and climate: 
Mesic to dry roadsides and disturbed areas in the lowland, steppe, and montane zones.
Uses: 
Can be used for hay or pasture, but consumption of seed can be poisonous to livestock. Hairy vetch is especially known for erosion control, bank stabilization, winter cover crop, and soil conditioning. It can be asuitable plant in organic and no-till pasture and cropping systems.
Forage yield (rating): 
H
Palatability/Nutritional Value: 
High palatability. High crude protein values and very digestible.
Longevity (rating): 
L
Longevity: 
Annual or biennial.
Invasiveness (rating): 
M
Invasiveness: 
Can be invasive in some regions and situations if not managed properly.
Competitiveness (rating): 
H
Competitiveness: 
Once established, hairy vetch can be aggressive and competitive.
Weed resistance (rating): 
H
Erosion control (rating): 
H
Drought tolerance (rating): 
H
Winter hardiness (rating): 
H
Winter hardiness: 
Winter hardy but dependent on good snow cover. Vetch seeded alone may be vulnerable to frost heave damage.
Soil texture preference (rating): 
C
Soil texture preference: 
Prefers sandy soils, but is adapted to all soil textures.
Flooding tolerance (rating): 
M
Flooding tolerance: 
Some flooding tolerance but not adapted to poorly drained soils.
Salinity tolerance (rating): 
L
Acidity tolerance (rating): 
L
Acidity tolerance : 
Prefers pH 6.0 to 7.0. Low tolerance to low pH but moderate tolerance to high pH (alkalinity).
Shade tolerance: 
Low
Ease of establishment (rating): 
H
Ease of establishment: 
Where adapted.
Application requirements: 
Hairy vetch is normally planted in the fall.
Management considerations: 
It can be broadcast or drill seeded.