Bitter Vetch Lathyrus linifolius

Scientific Name: Lathyrus linifolius (Fabaceae).

English Name: Bitter Vetch; Heath Pea (Pea family).

French Name: Gesse à feuilles de lin (='flax leaved legume').

5 Key Characters:
  • leaf stems are winged.
  • flowers start out pinky-red and turn blue as they age.
  • seedpod long and red-brown.
  • 15 - 30 cm tall, erect.
  • leaves divide into 2-4 pairs of leaflets.

Habitat: Damp rough grassland on neutral or acidic soil, open deciduous woodland, forest edges, hedgerows, grassy banks.

Flowering Period: May-June-July.

Status: The tubers contain a substance which suppresses thirst and hunger pangs. It is declining as pasture is 'improved' and and meadows ploughed up. 

References and Further Reading: Bitter-vetch post on Days on the Claise.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

On the side of a gravel track, between pasture and forest, near Chaumussay.

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