This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
A very handsome Vetch, 1 1/2-3 feet long, almost glabrous and climbing. Leaves with 5-8 pairs of linear leaflets. Flowers a beautiful rich violet with paler keel, large, 6-12 in a loose cluster. Calyx-teeth very unequal, the two upper short and connivant. Pods about 30 by 5 mm., glabrous, fawn-coloured at maturity.
Cultivated and waste places in the hills, up to about 4000 feet in Valais and the Eastern Pyrenees (e.g. Montlouis). May to July.
S. and S.E. France, Valais (Orsieres, etc.), S. Europe, N. Africa. This is a plant to introduce into our gardens.
Herbs with weak stems, sometimes climbing, and sagittate or half-sagittate stipules. Leaves usually pinnate, with fewer and larger leaflets than in Vicia, the common leaf-stalk often ending in a tendril. Flowers solitary or in racemes, on axillary peduncles, purple, red, white, or yellow. Style, flattened below the stigma, quite glabrous on outer side. Pods cylindrical or flattened. Seeds several, usually globular.
A large genus with nearly as wide a geographical range as Vicia.
Stem angular, 1-3 1/2 feet high, erect, often branched. Stipules half-sagittate or entire or feebly toothed at the base only. Leaves usually with 4 pairs of leaflets, which are elliptic and rather acute, almost glaucous beneath. Flowers yellowish, large, afterwards yellow-brown. Style linear, bearded at the apex.
Pastures and mountain woods up to 6000 feet; local. June, July.
Jura, Alps, Corbieres, Pyrenees, Central and Southern Europe. Siberia.
A glabrous plant, 1-2 feet high, turning black on being dried. Stems angular, erect. Leaves with 4-6 pairs of oval or elliptic leaflets, glaucous above. Stipules linear. Flowers reddish purple, then bluish, rather small, 4-8 in a loose cluster, longer than the leaves. Calyx-teeth very unequal. Pods linear, about 1 1/2 inches longer, black when ripe.
Mountain woods, especially on limestone. May to July.
Most of hilly Europe, Caucasus, Algeria.
A glabrous species about a foot high, with winged stem and inflated nodes on the underground stolons. (Linnaeus called it Orobus tuberosus.) Stipules more or less arrow-shaped. Leaves with 2-3 pairs of linear-lanceolate leaflets, glaucous beneath. Sometimes the leaflets are quite linear (var. angustifolia) and occasionally broadly oval. Inflorescence 4-6 flowered, equalling or longer than the leaves. Corolla at first purple-red, afterwards turning a dull blue.
Woods and thickets - common in the plains, hills, and sub-Alps. April to June.
Europe, especially Western and Central. British.
A glabrous plant about 1-1 1/2 feet high. Stem angular. Leaves with 2-4 pairs of oval-lanceolate leaflets, very pointed, bright green and shining. Flowers reddish violet, then bluish, larger than the last. Pods linear, glabrous, brown when ripe. Seeds yellow.
Mountain woods, especially on limestone. April to June.
Most of hilly Europe from the Pyrenees to the Caucasus, Western Asia.
A climbing species about 3 feet long, glabrous. Stems and leaf petioles broadly winged. Lower leaves with one pair of leaflets, upper leaves with 2-3 pairs; leaflets oval or lanceolate. Corolla purple; inflorescence longer than the leaves.
Mountain woods and pastures up to 6000 feet; local. June, July.
Alps, Jura; Central Europe from Portugal to Sweden and Russia.