TREATMENT FROM THE JEPSON MANUAL (1993) previous taxon | next taxon
Jepson Interchange (more information)
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Annual to tree
Leaves generally compound, alternate, stipuled; leaflets generally entire
Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, umbel or head; flowers sometime 1–2 in axils
Flowers generally bisexual, generally bilateral; hypanthium generally flat or cup-like; sepals generally 5, fused; petals generally 5, free, or the 2 lower ± fused; stamens 1–many, often 10 with 9 filaments at least partly fused, 1 (uppermost) free; pistil 1, ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, ovules 1–many, style, stigma 1
Fruit: legume, sometimes including a stalk-like base above receptacle, dehiscent, or indehiscent and breaking into 1-seeded segments, or indehiscent, 1-seeded, and achene-like
Seeds 1–several, often ± reniform, generally hard, smooth
Genera in family: ± 650 genera, 18,000 species: worldwide; with grasses, requisite in agriculture and most natural ecosystems. Many cultivated, most importantly Arachis , peanut; Glycine , soybean; Phaseolus , beans; Medicago ; Trifolium ; and many orns
Reference: [Polhill & Raven (eds) 1981 Advances in legume systematics; Allen & Allen 1981 Leguminosae]
Family description and key to genera by Duane Isely.



Duane Isely

Annual or perennial herb, unarmed
Stem generally sprawling or climbing, ridged or angled
Leaves even-1-pinnate; stipules with an upper (often toothed or lobed) and smaller lower segment; leaflets 4–many, alternate to opposite (often on 1 plant), linear to ovate; main leaf axis generally ending as a tendril
Inflorescence: raceme or cluster, axillary; peduncle or pedicels present; bracts small or 0
Flower: corolla generally lavender to purple, sometimes white or yellow; 9 filaments fused, 1 free; style generally round in X -section, hairs tufted at tip
Fruit dehiscent, generally ± oblong, generally flat; base stalk-like or not
Seeds 2 or more
Species in genus: ± 130 species: North America, Eurasia
Etymology: (Latin: vetch)
Reference: [Herman 1960 USDA Handb 168]
Best separated from Lathyrus by style characters.


V. tetrasperma (L.) Schreb.

Annual, ± glabrous
Stem slender
Leaf: leaflets 4–10, 0.6–2 cm, linear to elliptic
Inflorescence > subtending leaf; flowers generally 1–3, at tip of axis; peduncle thread-like
Flower: corolla 4–6 mm, pale lavender to light purple
Fruit 1–1.3 cm, 3–4 mm wide, glabrous; tip rounded, abruptly short-pointed on 1 side, becoming membranous; stalk-like base ± 1 mm
Chromosomes: 2n=14
Ecology: Disturbed areas, woodlands or borders
Elevation: especially < 1000 m.
Bioregional distribution: Northwestern California, San Francisco Bay Area, Peninsular Ranges, probably elsewhere
Distribution outside California: US, s Canada; native to Europe

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