Vetch, a group of herbs in the pea family, native mainly to north temperate areas. Most vetches grow two to three feet (60 to 90 cm) long and climb by means of tendrils at the ends of their leafstalks. They have compound leaves made up of oval leaflets growing from each side of a long leafstalk. The flowers, shaped like those of the sweet pea, are red, white, blue, or purple. The fruits are small pods of peas.
Common vetch, or tare, and hairy, or winter, vetch, are grown as forage plants in North America. Both are native to Europe and Asia. They are usually grown with grain plants, such as rye, which provide supports for their stems. The broad bean, grown for food in Europe, is an erect plant up to six feet (1.8 m) tall. It produces large beans in pods 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) long.
Vetches form the genus Vicia of the pea family, Leguminosae. The common vetch is V. sativa; hairy, V. villosa; broad bean, V. faba.