Leaves imparipinnate, usually ± sessile; terminal leaflet modified to a tendril, sometimes branched; stipules occasionally toothed; stipels absent.
Inflorescences of axillary racemes or flowers solitary or few in axils; bracts small caducous; bracteoles absent. Calyx 5-toothed, teeth ± equal to tube. Standard and wings obovate or oblong; keel obtuse. Stamens diadelphous; anthers uniform. Ovary with several ovules; style terete or compressed, with at least a few hairs; stigma terminal.
Pods oblong to linear, compressed, dehiscent; seeds usually globose, arillate.
Many species are cultivated for food and as fodder crops; some have become naturalized, especially in grassland and sclerophyll forest.
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Tendrils absent; leaf rachis terminating in a spur to 10 mm long.||Vicia faba|
|At least upper leaves terminating in tendrils.||2|
|2||Flowers 1–4 in axils of leaves, subsessile or peduncles shorter than the flowers; stipules mostly with a prominent central gland.||Vicia sativa|
|Flowers 1-many on peduncles longer than the flowers; stipules without glands.|
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|3||Corolla 10–25 mm long; pods 2–5 cm long with 2–8 seeds; stipules 3–6 mm long.||4|
|Corolla 2–8 mm long; pods 0.8–1.2 cm long with 2–5 seeds; stipules 1–4 mm long.|
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|4||Racemes 1–5-flowered, mostly shorter than the leaves; calyx base only slightly swollen; lower stipules 2-lobed, the lobes entire.||Vicia monantha|
|Racemes 3–40-flowered, usually longer than the leaves; calyx base distinctly swollen; lower stipules not lobed, finely toothed.|
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|5||Leaves with 3–5 pairs of leaflets; flowers 5–8 mm long; pods with 3–5 seeds.||Vicia tetrasperma|
|Leaves with 4–10 pairs of leaflets; flowers 2–5 mm long; pods with 1 or 2 seeds;|
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|6||Leaflets linear or ± lanceolate 5–25 mm long, 1–3 mm wide; calyx teeth equal; pods 8–11 mm long, 2–4 mm wide, pubescent.||Vicia hirsuta|
|Leaflets linear to elliptic, mostly 8–15 mm long, 1–5 mm wide; calyx teeth unequal; pods 12–20 mm long, 5–8 mm wide, glabrous.|
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