Vicia villosa

Vicia villosa Roth (S-Eur., W-As.) – A rather frequent, locally well-naturalized and increasing alien. Probably first recorded on waste land near the abbey of Villers-la-Ville in 1864. Soon occurring in numerous, widely scattered localities. In 1867 observed as a weed of arable land in Philippeville (at that time believed to be the first Belgian record (Thielens & Devos in Kickxia Belgica). Early records are said to be escapes from cultivation (Lawalrée 1963). Later also reported from grain and wool waste. Vicia villosa occurs in a very wide range of habitats: waste land, road verges, canal banks, by railway tracks, on dumps, sand raised sites and formerly also frequently as a weed of arable land (cereal fields, but also in alfalfa, vetch, clover, etc.). It is now mostly naturalized on rather dry, often calcareous and sun-exposed substrates. In Flanders Vicia villosa mostly occurs in the wide vicinity of the larger towns (Antwerpen, Brussel and Gent) (Verloove 2006c).

Vicia villosa is an exceedingly variable species and taxonomic treatments are rather divergent. At present most of the minor species are accepted as subspecies (Euro+Med Plantbase, Sell & Murrell 2009). Useful keys for the distinction of these infraspecific taxa are provided by Ball (1968), Romero Zarco (1999) and Sell & Murrell (2009). In Belgium only three subspecies have been recorded so far: subsp. eriocarpa (only recorded prior to 1950; see introduction), subsp. varia (Host) Corb. (syn.: V. varia Host, V. dasycarpa Ten., V. villosa subsp. dasycarpa (Ten.) Cav.) and subsp. villosa. Subsp. varia with sparse, adpressed indumentum and all calyx teeth shorter than the tube formerly was the most commonly encountered subspecies (Lawalrée 1963) but this no longer holds true. It is only rarely seen nowadays and perhaps merely ephemeral (except in some regions, for instance in the valley of river Escaut north of Tournai). Subsp. villosa is the usual taxon these days. It is densely hairy with long patent hairs and the lower calyx teeth are at least as long as the tube. However, subspecies of Vicia villosa are poorly understood in Belgium and their exact identity probably requires further examination. In the British Isles, for instance, five subspecies still regularly occur (Sell & Murrell 2009). Some subspecies (incl. subsp. ambigua (Guss.) Kerguélen) are characterized by few-flowered inflorescences. This feature should be assessed at anthesis (not all flowers develop pods and a lax infrutescence may erroneously suggest a few-flowered inflorescence).

Contrary to Ball (1968) stipules are not entire in this and related species. They are in fact always semihastate (except sometimes in the upper leaves).

Selected literature:

Ball P.W. (1968) Vicia. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds.), Flora Europaea, vol. 2. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 129-136.

Chrtková-Zertová A. (1973a) Cytotaxonomic study of the Vicia cracca complex 1. Czechoslovak taxa. Folia Geobot. Phytotax. 8: 67-93.

Chrtková-Zertová A. (1973b) Cytotaxonomic study of the Vicia cracca complex, 2. The taxa of the southern part of Northern Europe. Folia Geobot. Phytotax. 8: 249-254.

Činčura F. (1981) Vicia cracca agg. in der Slowakei. Acta Fac. Rerum Nat. Univ. Comenianae, Bot. 28: 77-94.

Coulot P. & Rabaute P. (2002) Découverte de deux nouvelles vesces (Vicia L., Leguminosae) pour le Languedoc-Roussillon et situation de ces espèces en France. Le Monde des Plantes 477: 7-13. [Available online at:]

Dengler J. (1995) Anmerkungen zur Bestimmung der brandenburgischen Vertreter von Vicia sect. Cracca. Verhandlungen des Botanischen Vereins von Berlin und Brandenburg 128: 147-154.

Hansen A. & Pedersen A. (1965) Vicia villosa Roth. ssp. villosa og ssp. dasycarpa (Ten.) Cavillier i Danmark. Fl. & Fauna (Esbjerg) 71: 83-90.

Jaaska V. (2005) Isozyme variation and phylogenetic relationships in Vicia subgenus Cracca (Fabaceae). Ann. Bot. (UK) 96: 1085-1096.

Lawalrée A (1963) Papilionaceae. In: Robyns W. (ed.), Flore Générale de Belgique, vol. 4, fasc. 2. Jardin Botanique de l’Etat, Bruxelles: 135-228.

Leht M. (2005) Cladistic and phenetic analyses of relationships in Vicia subgenus Cracca (Fabaceae) based on morphological data. Taxon 54: 1023-1032.

Lienenbecker H. (1980) Vicia villosa ssp. microphylla in Lupinus luteus - Ansaaten. Göttinger Florist. Rundbr. 14: 63-64.

Romero Zarco C. (1999) Vicia. In: Talavera S. & al. (eds.), Flora Iberica, vol. 7(I). Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid: 360-417.

Romero Zarco C. (1999b) Especies de Vicia subgen. Cracca (Dumort.) Peterm. (Leguminosae) mal interpretadas en las floras básicas de la Península Ibérica. An. Jard. Bot. Madrid 57(1): 220-225.

Roti-Michelozzi G. (1984) Biosystematic investigations on north western Italian populations of the Vicia cracca aggregate. Preliminary investigations. Webbia 38: 815-827.

Roti-Michelozzi G. (1986) Biosystematic studies on the Vicia villosa complex in Europe. Candollea 41: 399-411.

Sell P. & Murrell G. (2009) Flora of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol. 3 Mimosaceae – Lentibulariaceae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: XXVIII + 595 p.

Verloove F. (2002) Ingeburgerde plantensoorten in Vlaanderen. Mededeling van het Instituut voor Natuurbehoud n° 20: 227 p.

Verloove F. (2006c) Vicia villosa. In: Van Landuyt W., Hoste I., Vanhecke L., Van den Bremt P., Vercruysse W. & De Beer D., Atlas van de flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest. Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek, Nationale Plantentuin van België en Flo.Wer: 927.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith