Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Vicia villosa
(hairy vetch)

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Datasheet

Vicia villosa (hairy vetch)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Vicia villosa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • hairy vetch
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • V. villosa, commonly known as hairy vetch, is now present on all continents. It is considered as native to southern and central Europe, North Africa, West and Central Asia but its native range is difficult to a...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Nr. McDermit Station, Mariposa County, California, USA. June, 2010.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionVicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Nr. McDermit Station, Mariposa County, California, USA. June, 2010.
Copyright©Steven Thorsted/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Nr. McDermit Station, Mariposa County, California, USA. June, 2010.
Flowering habitVicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Nr. McDermit Station, Mariposa County, California, USA. June, 2010.©Steven Thorsted/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionVicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.
Copyright©Steven Thorsted/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.
Flowering habitVicia villosa (hairy vetch); flowering habit. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.©Steven Thorsted/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); close-up of flowers. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionVicia villosa (hairy vetch); close-up of flowers. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.
Copyright©Steven Thorsted/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); close-up of flowers. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.
Flowering habitVicia villosa (hairy vetch); close-up of flowers. Zimmer Farm Canby, Clackamus Co. Oregon, USA. June, 2010.©Steven Thorsted/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); green seedpod. North of highway 12, nr Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. April, 2008.
TitleSeedpod
CaptionVicia villosa (hairy vetch); green seedpod. North of highway 12, nr Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. April, 2008.
Copyright©Zoya Akulova-2008/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); green seedpod. North of highway 12, nr Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. April, 2008.
SeedpodVicia villosa (hairy vetch); green seedpod. North of highway 12, nr Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. April, 2008.©Zoya Akulova-2008/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.
TitleSeedpod
CaptionVicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.
Copyright©Zoya Akulova-2011/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.
SeedpodVicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.©Zoya Akulova-2011/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod, with seeds. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.
TitleSeedpod
CaptionVicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod, with seeds. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.
Copyright©Zoya Akulova-2011/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod, with seeds. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.
SeedpodVicia villosa (hairy vetch); dry seedpod, with seeds. On a logging road in redwood forest. Nr. Suisun City, Solano County, California, USA. July, 2011.©Zoya Akulova-2011/CalPhotos - CC BY-NC 3.0
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); seeds. Note mm scale. Source - Stanislaus Co., Woodward Reservoir County Park, Californiam USA. June, 2012.
TitleSeeds
CaptionVicia villosa (hairy vetch); seeds. Note mm scale. Source - Stanislaus Co., Woodward Reservoir County Park, Californiam USA. June, 2012.
Copyright©Jean Pawek-2012/CalPhotos
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch); seeds. Note mm scale. Source - Stanislaus Co., Woodward Reservoir County Park, Californiam USA. June, 2012.
SeedsVicia villosa (hairy vetch); seeds. Note mm scale. Source - Stanislaus Co., Woodward Reservoir County Park, Californiam USA. June, 2012.©Jean Pawek-2012/CalPhotos

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Vicia villosa

Preferred Common Name

  • hairy vetch

Other Scientific Names

  • Vicia dasycarpa

International Common Names

  • English: fodder vetch; Russian vetch; sand vetch; winter vetch; wooly vetch; woolypod vetch; woolypod vetch
  • Spanish: arvejilla vellosa; veza vellosa
  • French: vesce de Russie; vesce velue
  • Russian: vika ozimaâ
  • Chinese: chang rou mao ye wan dou

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: sandvikke
  • Germany: sandwicke; zottelwicke
  • Italy: vecccia velllutata
  • Japan: hearii-betchi
  • Netherlands: bonte wikke
  • Portugal: ervilhaca-vilosa

Summary of Invasiveness

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V. villosa, commonly known as hairy vetch, is now present on all continents. It is considered as native to southern and central Europe, North Africa, West and Central Asia but its native range is difficult to ascertain because of its wide naturalization after cultivation for fodder production and as a cover crop. V. villosa usually spreads from cultivation to nearby sites where it can be self-maintained. It is a potential contaminant of crop seeds and can behave as an agricultural or environmental weed. Hairy vetch can alter habitat structure and reduce the abundance of native plants through competition for space. It can also poison mammals and poultry. In California, it has been evaluated as an invasive plant but its impacts in wildlands are considered minor (Cal-IPC, 2015).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Papilionoideae
  •                                 Genus: Vicia
  •                                     Species: Vicia villosa

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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According to The Plant List (2013) there are three accepted subspecific taxa: V. villosa subsp. ambigua (Guss.) Kerguelen, V. villosa subsp. microphylla (d'Urv.) P.W.Ball and V. villosa subsp. varia (Host) Corb. 

Different taxonomical treatments are presented in other floras (Romero Zarco, 1999; Tison et al., 2014) where for example V. villosa subsp. ambigua is considered the independent species Vicia pseudocracca Bertol. and V. villosa subsp. varia is treated as V. dasycarpa Ten.

V. eriocarpa (Hausskn.) Halácsy is included as a synonym of V. villosa subsp. varia by The Plant List (2013), but it is considered as a separate subspecies V. villosa Roth subsp. eriocarpa (Hausskn.) P.W.Ball by ILDIS (2015) and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2015) or given species level rank as V. eriocarpa (Hausskn.) Halácsy by other sources (Romero Zarco, 1999; Tison et al., 2014). 

Description

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V. villosa is a hairy, occasionally climbing, annual plant (sometimes biennial or perennial) reaching up to 150 cm in height. It has paripinnate compound leaves ending in a ramified tendril, with 5-12 pairs of narrowly elliptical leaflets; stipules eglandular. Papilionaceous flowers (butterfly-like corolla) are blue, violet, purple, or rarely white. The corolla is 10-20 mm and the limb of the standard is nearly half as long as the claw; the calyx gibbous at the base. The inflorescence is a dense raceme with 7-22 flowers; inflorescence peduncle equal or longer than the subtending leaf. The fruit is an elliptic legume 20-40 x (4-)6-12 mm, and brown when mature. There are 2-8 seeds per pod, 3 mm in diameter, often with a hilum measuring 1/12-1/5 of their circumference.

The three recognised subspecies of V. villosa have glabrous or appressed pubescent stems and their lower calyx-teeth are shorter than the tube (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015).

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Biennial
Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

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It is recorded as native to North Africa, southern and central Europe, West and Central Asia. Its native range is difficult to ascertain however, as it has been widely cultivated and naturalized and is now present on all continents (Ohwi, 1965; Romero Zarco, 1999; Wiersema and León, 2013; Tison et al., 2014; ILDIS, 2015; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015). It has been widely introduced to the USA in the 1700s and since its arrival it has become one of the most cultivated vetch species. 

It is likely to be present in many more countries than are listed in the Distrubtion Table.  

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeRoskov et al., 2005
ArmeniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
AzerbaijanPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
BhutanPresentIntroducedRoskov et al., 2005
ChinaPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GansuPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HebeiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HunanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-Nei MengguPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-ShandongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-XinjiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-ZhejiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
East TimorPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNativeILDIS, 2015
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Tamil NaduPresentILDIS, 2015
IranPresentNativeRoskov et al., 2005
IraqPresentNativeRoskov et al., 2005; Flora of Pakistan, 2015
IsraelPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
JapanPresentIntroducedOhwi, 1965
JordanPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
KazakhstanPresentNativeRoskov et al., 2005
KyrgyzstanPresentNativeRoskov et al., 2005
LebanonPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
PakistanPresentFlora of Pakistan, 2015
TaiwanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
TajikistanPresentILDIS, 2015
TurkeyPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
TurkmenistanPresentILDIS, 2015

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
EgyptPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedNaturalis Biodiversity Center, 2015
KenyaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
LibyaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
MoroccoPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
TunisiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015

North America

CanadaPresentIntroduced Invasive CBIF, 2015
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-ManitobaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-QuebecPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-Yukon TerritoryPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
MexicoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
USAPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-IdahoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-IndianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-IowaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-KansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MainePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MarylandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MichiganPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-MontanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-NevadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-New YorkPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-OhioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-TennesseePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-TexasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-UtahPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-VermontPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-WisconsinPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015
-WyomingPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
BoliviaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
BrazilPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
ChilePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015
ColombiaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2015

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
AustriaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
BelarusPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
BelgiumPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
BulgariaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
CyprusPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNativeILDIS, 2015
DenmarkPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
EstoniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
FinlandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
FrancePresentNativeILDIS, 2015
-CorsicaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
GermanyPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
GreecePresentNativeILDIS, 2015
HungaryPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
ItalyPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
LatviaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
LithuaniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
NetherlandsPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
NorwayPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
PolandPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
PortugalPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
Russian FederationPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
SpainPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
SwitzerlandPresentNativeILDIS, 2015
UKPresentIntroduced1815ILDIS, 2015
UkrainePresentNativeILDIS, 2015
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNativeILDIS, 2015

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedAtlas of Living Australia, 2015
New ZealandPresentIntroducedNew Zealand Virtual Herbarium, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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V. villosa has been widely introduced as a fodder crop. Since its introduction to the USA in the 1700s, V. villosa has become the most commonly cultivated vetch (Heuzé et al., 2014). Records suggest that it was first grown in the UK in 1815 and later recorded in the wild in 1857 (Biological Records Centre, 2015).

Risk of Introduction

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V. villosa is an important fodder crop and has been and still is deliberately introduced for fodder production to countries outside of its native range. It can spread from its site of cultivation to nearby sites (Owsley, 2011; Wiersema and León, 2013) and is a potential contaminant of crop seeds (USDA-ARS, 2015). 

Habitat

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It is considered a hardy species, tolerating frost, drought and flooding and can thus inhabit a range of environments including, managed and natural grasslands, agricultural land, disturbed areas, such as roadsides, and edges of cropland and abandoned fields (Lapina and Carlson, 2013). 

In Africa, it occupies Mediterranean bushland and thicket, Afromontane (upland) and anthropic landscapes (ILDIS, 2015).  

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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V. villosa can be a common weed in vineyards and orchards (France, Italy), in olive (Olea europaea) plantations (Spain), and croplands; affecting maize (Zea mays) (Belgium, Portugal), grain legume crops, spring-summer vegetables (Portugal), winter crops (Belgium, Germany) and rape (Brassica rapa)(Germany) (Hyppa, 2015).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Brassica rapa subsp. rapa (turnip)BrassicaceaeMain
Hordeum vulgare (barley)PoaceaeMain
Olea europaeaOleaceaeMain
Triticum aestivum (wheat)PoaceaeMain
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)VitaceaeMain
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

V. villosa is reported to have a chromosome number of 2n = 14 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015)

Reproductive Biology

Flowers are usually cross-pollinated by bumble bees (Owsley, 2011), and although some self-pollination may occur; cross-pollination greatly increases seed production (Gunn, 1979). In cultivation this vetch species can be autumn-seeded and reach maturity the following July (Undersander et al., 2015). In North America, V. villosa is grown as an annual or winter annual; if it is sown in late summer the seeds germinate and the seedlings are able to develop a crown before the first snow. In spring, the stems are produced and then flowering takes place in mid-June with the pods maturing from 10-25 July. If the plant is sown in spring it will produce seeds in the same season. Further details on V. villosa development for cultivation in North America can be found in Undersander et al. (2015).

Physiology and Phenology

Flowering and fruiting in the Northern Hemisphere takes place between April and October (Tison et al., 2014; Flora of China Editorial Committee 2015) and between November and March in the in the Southern Hemisphere (Webb et al., 1988). V. villosa has allelopathic properties, conferring an advantage when in cultivation and reducing weed competition (Heuzé et al., 2014).

Longevity

Information on the persistence of V. villosa seeds in the seed-bank is not consistent; according to Myers (2015) they can remain in the soil seed bank for several years, whereas a study by McKee and Musil (1984; cited by Lapina and Carlson, 2013) affirm that the seeds are viable for less than two years.

Associations

V. villosa is able to establish a legume-Rhizobium symbiotic relationship, which allows biological nitrogen fixation (Tikhonovich et al., 1995; Owsley, 2011; Undersander et al., 2015).      

Environmental Requirements

Hairy vetch is a hardy species, tolerating frost, drought and flooding (Lapina and Carlson, 2013). Although suited to wetter soils and colder winters, it can be susceptible to winter kill in colder climates without snow cover. It can be found in a range of soils but shows a preference for loamy and sandy soils (Undersander et al., 2015) and grows well on light soils that are too sandy for crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum). It is only moderately sensitive to soil acidity (Owsley, 2011).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
65 55

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall430mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Acyrthosiphon pisum Herbivore Undersander et al., 2015
Bruchus brachialis Herbivore Seeds not specific Owsley, 2011
Helicoverpa zea Herbivore Undersander et al., 2015
Meloidogyne Parasite Undersander et al., 2015

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The larvae of the vetch bruchid (Bruchus brachialis) feed on the seeds of V. villosa and can lead to poor reseeding of the plant (Owsley, 2011). The presence of this pest may account for why V. villosa has not been so widely planted in Mexico and Central America (Gunn, 1979). Although B. brachialis is the only pest considered to be a serious problem (Owsley, 2011), other insect pests of forage legumes such as the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum), cutworm (larvae of Noctuidae moths) and corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) can affect V. villosa (Undersander et al., 2015).

Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) can also cause damage to vetch species (Undersander et al., 2015) and V. villosa is sensitive to several fungal diseases. 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

The legume pods are dehiscent and tend to shatter soon after maturity (Undersander et al., 2015). Seeds are large and not easily dispersed (Lapina and Carlson, 2013).

Accidental Introduction

V. villosa is a potential contaminant of crop seeds (USDA-ARS, 2015).

Intentional Introduction

It has been deliberately introduced around the world for fodder production (Gunn, 1979; Wiersema and León, 2013) and can escape cultivation to nearby sites where it can be self-maintained (Lapina and Carlson, 2013).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop production Yes Yes Heuze et al., 2014

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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V. villosa can cause poisoning in mammals, including cattle and horses, and poultry (Wiersema and León, 2013; CBIF, 2015). In mammals symptoms include dermatitis and mortality has been recorded in cattle and poultry (CBIF, 2015).

In cattle, two types of syndromes have been suggested. The first syndrome, acute illness followed by death after ingesting raw seeds and the second syndrome, skin lesions, coughing and respiratory problems, and death after two weeks. In horses, symptoms include conjunctivitus and edema around the lips and eyes. Poisoning is most prevalant mid to late spring (CBIF, 2015).    

This plant can behave as an agricultural or environmental weed (Randall, 2007; HEAR, 2015; HYPPA, 2015).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

V. villosa is able to maintain and extend a stand after establishment, usually in arable land, fallow fields or road sides (Owsley, 2011). It has the potential to affect ecosystem processes, altering the nitrogen content in the soil and also soil water availability. It can cause changes to habitat structure through forming dense herbaceous layers and outcompeting native species for space. In California, it has been evaluated as an invasive plant but its impacts in wildlands are considered minor; it is primarily an agricultural weed (Cal-IPC, 2015).

Impact on Biodiversity

It is recognized as an environmental weed and can reduce the number of native species in natural plant communities through competition for space (Lapina and Carlson, 2013). Native bees may also find the flowers of V. villosa more attractive than native plants and so V. villosa may affect the pollination of native plant communities (Lapina and Carlson, 2013).

V. villosa causes poisoning in mammals and can affect cattle, horses and poultry (Wiersema and León, 2013; CBIF, 2015). In mammals, symptoms include dermatitis, and mortality has been recorded in cattle and poultry. Occasionally, poisoning has occurred where V. villosa has been used as forage for livestock (CBIF, 2015). 

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Poisoning
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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Economic Value

V. villosa is an important species for forage production, with a high yield (Heuzé et al., 2014). It is widely cultivated as a fodder crop because of its high protein content and as it is a hardy plant which can withstand trampling. V. villosa is also used for erosion control through planting as ground cover, and as a cover crop to improve soil nitrogen content as a green manure (Ohwi, 1965; Owsley, 2011; Wiersema and León, 2013; Flora of Pakistan, 2015; Undersander et al., 2015).       

Detection and Inspection Methods

Some botanical expertise is needed to identify and distinguish V. villosa from similar species. Seed identification requires the expertise of a seed identification specialist and possibly germination tests. Useful keys may be found in Flora of China Editorial Committee (2015) and Tison et al. (2014)

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Commercial pollinator
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Soil improvement

Materials

  • Green manure

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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V. villosa closely resembles V. cracca but V. cracca has a smooth stem and the limb of the standard is longer than the claw (Tison et al., 2014).

Prevention and Control

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Mechanical Control

Hand pulling small stands before they seed can reduce the threat to native plants (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2015). Several treatments of a combination of mowing and herbicides should eliminate persistent stands of V. villosa (Owsley, 2011).

Chemical Control

Clopyralid and other selective herbicides can be used to control V. villosa (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2015).

References

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Atlas of Living Australia, 2015. Atlas of Living Australia. http://bie.ala.org.au/

Biological Records Centre, 2015. Online atlas of the British and Irish flora. Wallingford, UK: Biological Records Centre. http://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/

Bridwell JC; Bottimer LJ, 1933. The hairy-vetch bruchid, Bruchus brachialis Fahraeus, in the United States. Journal of Agricultural Research, 46:739-51.

Calflora, 2016. Information on California plants for education, research, and conservation. Berkeley, California, USA: Calflora Database. http://www.calflora.org

Cal-IPC (California Invasive Plant Council), 2015. California Invasive Plants Council. Berkeley, California, USA: California Invasive Plant Council. http://www.cal-ipc.org/

CBIF, 2015. Canadian Poisonous Plant Information System. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Government of Canada. http://www.cbif.gc.ca/eng/species-bank/canadian-poisonous-plants-information-system

Centre for Invasive Species Ecosystem Health, 2015. Invasive.org. Georgia, USA: University of Georgia. http://www.invasive.org

Clark A, 2007. Managing cover crops profitably, 3rd edition. Maryland, USA: Sustainable Agriculture Network, 248 pp. http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302hsted/covercropsbook.pdf

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Flora of Pakistan, 2015. Flora of Pakistan/Pakistan Plant Database (PPD). Tropicos website. USA: St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/Pakistan

Frame J, 2015. Vicia villosa Roth. Grassland species profiles. CIAT/FAO collaboration on Tropical Forages. http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/Gbase/data/pf000506.htm

Gunn CR, 1979. Genus Vicia with notes about tribe Vicieae (Fabaceae) in Mexico and central America. Technical Bulletin, United States Department of Agriculture, No.1601. 41pp.

HEAR, 2015. Alien species in Hawaii. Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/index.html

Heuze V; Tran G; Edouard N; Lebas F; Lessire M, 2014. Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. INRA, CIRAD, AFZ, FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/238

HYPPA, 2015. Hypermedia for plant protection: Weeds. Dijon, France: INRA. http://www2.dijon.inra.fr/hyppa

ILDIS, 2015. International Legume Database and Information Service. Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

Lapina I; Carlson ML, 2013. Vicia villosa weed risk assessment form. Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Natural Heritage Program, University of Alaska. http://aknhp.uaa.alaska.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Vicia_villosa_RANK_VIVI.pdf

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2015. Invasive terrestrial plants. Minnesota, USA: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/index.html

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Myers DK, 2015. Agronomy Facts Sheets: Hairy vetch as an Ohio cover crop. Ohio, USA: Ohio State University. http://ohioline.osu.edu/agf-fact/0006.html

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, 2015. Botany Wageningen. Leiden, Netherlands: Naturalis Biodiversity Center. http://ipt.naturalis.nl/resource.do?r=botany_wag

New Zealand Virtual Herbarium, 2015. NZVH. Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand National Herbarium Network. http://www.virtualherbarium.org.nz

Ohwi JA, 1965. Flora of Japan. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institute, ix + 1067 pp.

Owsley M, 2011. Plant fact sheet for hairy vetch (Vicia villosa). Baton Rouge, USA: USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_vivi.pdf

Randall RP, 2007. The introduced flora of Australia and its weed status [ed. by Randall RP]. Glen Osmond, Australia: CRC for Australian Weed Management, iv + 524 pp.

Romero Zarco C, 1999. Vicia in Castroviejo (coor.), Flora Iberica Vol. VII(i). Madrid, Spain: Real Jardin Botanico, CSIC, 360-417. http://www.floraiberica.es/floraiberica/texto/pdfs/07_33%20Vicia.pdf

Roskov YR; Bisby FA; Zarucchi JL; Schrire BD; White RJ; (eds), 2005. ILDIS World database of legumes: draft checklist, version 10. (November 2005). CD-ROM. Reading, UK: ILDIS.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015. Flora Europaea. Edinburgh, UK: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. http://rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/FE/fe.html

The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://www.theplantlist.org

Tikhonovich IA; Provorov NA; Romanov VI; Newton WE, 1995. Nitrogen fixation: fundamentals and applications. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academics Publishers, 822 pp.

Tison JM; Foucault De; Halle F, 2014. Flora gallica: Flore de France. Meze, France: Biotop Eds, 1196 pp.

Undersander DJ; Ehlke NJ; Kaminski AR; Doll JD; Kelling KA, 2015. Alternative field crops manual: hairy vetch. Wisconsin, USA: University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota. https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/vetch.html

USDA-ARS, 2015. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2015. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Webb CJ; Sykes WR; Garnock-Jones PJ, 1988. Flora of New Zealand vol. IV: naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons. Botany Division, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Botany Division, D. Christchurch, New Zealand: Botany Division, D.S.I.R. http://floraseries.landcareresearch.co.nz

Wiersema JH; Leon B, 2013. World economic plants: a standard reference, 2nd edition. London, UK: CRC Press, 1336 pp.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Feedipedia.orghttp://www.feedipedia.org/node/238
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
ILDIS World database of legumeshttp://www.ildis.org
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service - Vicia villosahttp://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_vivi.pdf

Contributors

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07/04/15: Original text by:

Javier Peralta de Andrés, Herbarium UPNA, Dpto. de Ciencias del Medio Natural, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Spain

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