Purple vetch (Vicia benghalensis) originated from the Mediterranean area. While other species of the genus Vicia have been cultivated for forage since ancient times, the cultivation of purple vetch for fodder started in Australia in the 20th century (Tate et al., 2006). In Europe and the USA it is mostly used as a cover crop (UC SAREP, 2006; Arvalis, 2017). Purple vetch is mainly used as a winter growing species (Duke, 1981). However, it is not a very winter hardy species and was referred to be a suitable winter crop only in the milder parts of California, Arizona, Alabama and southern Georgia (USA) and in Queensland (Australia). It can not survive frost below -9°C (UC SAREP, 2006). It can be grown as a spring crop in areas with harder winters.
Vicia benghalensis is a vigorous straggling, climbing or trailing biennal or short-lived perennial legume. It has long lasting roots and erect habit during the early stages of growth and can reach a height of 40-100 cm. Purple vetch stems are slender, angular and striate, 20-80 cm long, densely pubescent or pilose when young, often becoming glabrescent (UC SAREP, 2006; Duke, 1981). The leaves are compound, made of several (10-16) pairs of leaflets and terminated by a tendril. The hairy leaflets are linear, oblong or elliptic in shape, 1-2.5 cm long x 1.5-6 mm broad. The inflorescence is a conspicuous terminal compact raceme of 2-20 large (13-18 mm) purple papillonaceous flowers. The fruit is a dehiscent pod, straw to brown in colour, pubescent, narrowly oblong, 2.5-4 cm long x 8-12 mm broad. It contains about 3-5 smooth, brownish-gray, black mottled seeds with a white hilum. The weight of 100 seeds is 4-4.5 g
How to get rid of:
Control common vetch with a post-emergent two-, three-, and four-way broadleaf herbicide. Herbicides containing triclopyr and clopyralid, as well as fluroxypyr products are efficient herbicide controls.