Vetch, or Tare, Vicia, L. a genus of plants comprehending 30 species, of which 8 or 9 are indigenous ; and the following are the most remarkable, namely:
II. The Cracca, or Tufted Vetch, is frequent in shady places, meadows, and fields; flowers in the months of July and August. - Both, this and the preceding species, are said to restore weak or starved cattle to their former strength, more speedily than any other vegetable hitherto discovered.
III. The sepium. - See Bush Vetch.
IV. Thesativa, Common Vetch, Fetch, or Tare, thrives in dry meadows, pastures, and corn-fields, where it flowers from April to June. This species is one of the most valuable of the Vetch kind, and is divided into three varieties, namely :
1. The Summer Fetch, is raised from seed, which is usually sown toward the end of March, or early in April, in the proportion of 8 or 10 pecks per acre, broad-cast; though, when drilled, half that quantity is sufficient, and the crop will be greatly superior. This variety is chiefly propagated and used for weaning lambs and sheep, as well as for soiling horses and cows: its seeds afford an excellent food for pigeons. - Bees obtain a copious supply of honey from the young leaves of this plant, which are marked with black, and the spots of which contain a delicious saccharine juice.
2. The Winter Vetch, is sown in the month of September, in the same proportions as the preceding sort ; a small quantity of beans, or (which is preferable) of black oats, being intermixed, to support the plants; which are generally covered with long dung, to preserve them from the frost. - This variety is subservient to the same purposes as the Summer Vetch: when ploughed into chalk-lands in the month of May, it serves as an excellent ma nure for wheat intended to be sown in the succeeding autumn. In the county of Gloucester, the Winter Vetch is cultivated as pasturage for horses, and is eaten off so early, as to admit of turnips being raised in the same year.
V. The lathyroides : Strangle VEtch, or Take, abounds in dry pastures, gravel-pits and corn-fields, in chalky and sandy soils ; where its small blueish-purple flowers appear in the month of May. Its culture should be encouraged in sloping grounds, and sandy hills exposed to the sun; as it affords the most tender and agreeable food to sheep.
Beside the different kinds above enumerated, there is another, called the Chinese Fetch, which was a few years since introduced into England: its culture is at present confined chiefly to the county of Glamorgan, where it grows in tufts, from 18 to 24 inches in height. This species promises to be very profitable to agriculturists; as it is said to yield four crops in the year, and to afford food excellent for cattle, both in a fresh state, and when made into hay.
Bitter Vetch, the Bitter, or Wood Peasling, Orobus sylvaticus, L. an indigenous perennial, growing in woods, hedges, and pastures, especially in mountainous situations ; where it flowers from May to July. This hardy plant is chiefly cultivated in gardens, for the beauty of its numerous blossoms ; either by sowing it in autumn, or by dividing the roots: the latter being very nutritious, are in Scotland applied to the same uses as those of the Heath Pea. - The leaves of the Bitter Vetch are much more relished by cattle, and especially by game.
Chickling Vetch, or Vetchling, Lathyrus, L. a genus of plants consisting of 13 species, 7 being indigenous; and the principal of these are:
1. The Aphaca, or Yellow Vetchling, grows in sandy cornfields, and meadows, where its greenish - yellow flowers appear from June to August. - Dr. Withering remarks, that the leguminous fruit of this, as well as the other species of Vetchling, are very nutritious, and may be eaten either in broth, or be converted into bread ; though a larger proportion of wheaten or rye-flower be required for such purpose.
2. The sylvestris. See Pea, the Narrow-leaved Everlasting.
3. The pratensis, Everlasting Tare, Common Yellow, or Meadow Vetchling, which abounds in pasture - lands, in woods, thickets, and hedges: it grows to the height of 6 feet; flowers in July and August. This species is reputed to be an useful vegetable in the feeding of cattle; though Mr. Swayne remarks, that they seldom eat it, if there be a variety of other grasses in the same field ; and, as it produces few seeds, which are mostly devoured by insects, it does not appear to merit attention. Nevertheless, Bech-stein observes, that the Yellow Vetchling, both in a fresh and dry state, affords excellent food for cattle in general, and therefore deserves to be cultivated in meadows.
4.The latifolius, Broad-Leaved Vetchhing, Or Eyeblasting Pea is frequent in woods and hedges ; flowering in the months of July and August. It is often raised in gardens, chiefly for the beauty of its variegated flowers; but Dr. Anderson believes it may be useful to the farmer; and, as it attains the height of 10 or 12 feet, having very strong stalks, he supposes that it would afford a large crop of hay.
There is an exotic species of the Chickling, namely, the tuberosum, which the Germans term Earth-nut, or Sow-bread; growing in stony and mountainous fields : - this plant is a valuable addition to meadows ; not only on account of its odoriferous flowers, which blow from May to July, and are eagerly frequented by bees ; but also for its black tuberous roots, which are in Holland eaten as fruit, and boiled for culinary use ; having the sweet and agreeable taste of nuts. These roots contain a larger proportion of mealy particles than potatoes : and Bergius extracted from one pound of Earth-nuts, three ounces of a beautiful white starch ; whereas the same quantity of the former yielded only one ounce. Why, therefore, should it not be used for bread ?
Corn Vetch, Wild, or Hairy Tare, Tine-tare, or Rough-podded Tare, Ervum hirsutism, L. an indigenous plant, growing in sandy corn-fields, hedges, and meadows, where it flowers in the month of June. - This vegetable is eaten by horses, cows, goats, and sheep; but it ought to be carefully eradicated; as, during wet seasons, whole crops of corn have been overpowered, and their growth completely stifled, by this pernicious weed.