Online Encyclopedia

VETCH

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 1 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VETCH, in botany, the English name for Vicia saliva, also known as tare, a leguminous annual herb with trailing or climbing stems, compound leaves with five or six pairs of leaflets, reddish-purple flowers borne singly or in pairs in the leaf-axis, and a silky pod containing four to ten smooth seeds. The wild form, sometimes regarded as a distinct species, V. angusti-(olia, is common in dry soils. There are two races of the cultivated vetch, winter and spring vetches: the former, a hardy form, capable of enduring frost, has smoother, more cylindrical pods with smaller seeds than the summer variety, and gives less bulk of stem and leaves. The spring vetch is a more delicate plant and grows more rapidly and luxuriantly than the winter variety. The name vetch is applied to other species of the genus Vicia. Vicia orobus, bitter vetch, and V. sylvatica, wood vetch, are British plants. Another British plant, Hippocrepis, is known as horseshoe vetch from the fact of its pod breaking into several horseshoe-shaped joints. Anthyllis vulneraria is kidney-vetch, a herb with heads of usually yellow flowers, found on dry banks. Astragalus is another genus of Leguminosae, and is known as milk-vetch. Vetches are a very valuable forage crop. Being indigenous to Britain, and not fastidious in regard to soil, they can be cultivated successfully under a great diversity of circumstances, and are well adapted for poor soils. By combining the winter and spring varieties, and making several sowings of each in its season at intervals of two or three weeks, it is practicable to have them fit for use from May till October, and thus to carry out a system of soiling by means of vetches alone. But it is usually more expedient to use them in combination with grass and clover, beginning with the first cutting of the latter in May, taking the winter vetches in June, recurring to the Italian ryegrass or clover as the second cutting is ready, and afterwards bringing the spring vetches into use. Each crop can thus be used when in its best state for cattle food, and so as gratefully to vary their dietary. Winter Vetches.—There is no botanical difference between winter and spring vetches, and the seeds being identical in appearance, caution is required in purchasing seed to get it of
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