British Wildlife Wiki

Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) is a plant in the Fabaceae family.

About The Plant.[]

Bush vetch is a clambering perennial with pinky-purple flowers in largish clusters on stems borne in the leaf axils. It has a long flowering period stretching from April to November. The ladder-like leaves are arranged in pairs on either side of the stem. The fruits are the black, hairless pods of the pea family.

Bush vetch supports a variety of generalist legume feeders including beetles, weevils and caterpillars. Bumblebees and honeybees seek out the flowers.

Use by humans[]

Bitter Vetch (V. ervilia) is one of the first domesticated crops. It was grown in the Near East about 9,500 years ago, starting perhaps even one or two millennia earlier during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A. By the time of the Central European Linear Pottery culture – about 7,000 years ago –, Broad Bean (V. faba) had also been domesticated. Vetch has been found at Neolithic and Eneolithic sites in Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia.And at the same time, at the opposite end of Eurasia, the Hoabinhian people also utilized the Broad Bean in their path towards agriculture, as shown by the seeds found in Spirit Cave, Thailand.

Though Bernard of Clairvaux shared bread of vetch meal with his monks during the famine of 1124-26, an emblem of humility, eventually the Bitter Vetch was dropped from human use, save as a crop of last resort in times of starvation: vetches "featured in the frugal diet of the poor until the eighteenth century, and even reappeared on the black market in the South of France during the Second World War", Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, of Marseillais background, has remarked. Broad Beans remained prominent though, be it in the Near East where the seeds are mentioned in Hittite and Ancient Egyptian sources dating from more than 3,000 years ago as well as in the Bible or in the large Celtic Oppidum of Manching from La Tène Europe some 2,200 years ago. Dishes resembling ful medames are attested in the Jerusalem Talmud which was compiled before 400 AD.