Fabaceae . . . . . Pea family

In addition to the below, a number of cultivated peas and beans and other cultivated spp. or bird-seed aliens can persist as casuals

Make a choice between the following:

(a) WOODY PLANTS . . . or . . . (b) HERBACEOUS PLANTS:

(a) Fabaceae - WOODY

(b) Fabaceae - HERBACEOUS:

(i) Yellow (or dark cream) flowers . . . (ii) Pinnate lvs (not yellow) . . . (iii) Others (mostly clovers)

(i) Fabaceae (Herbs) - yellow (or dark cream) flowers

(ii) Fabaceae (Herbs) -pinnate (or linear) leaves (not yellow fls)

(iii) Fabaceae - other herbs - (mostly Clovers)


Anthyllis vulneraria . . . . Kidney Vetch

Often divided into three or more subspp.

Astragalus . . . . Milk-vetch

Astragalus alpinus . . . . Alpine Milk-vetch

Rare plant of Scottish mountains

Similar to Oxytropis halleri
which occurs in similar places

Astragalus danicus . . . . Purple Milk-vetch

Local on short (often seaside) turf in E Britain

Astragalus glycyphyllos . . . . Wild Liquorice

Local plant, mostly on calcareous soils

Coronilla . . . . Scorpion vetch

Coronilla scorpioides . . . . Scorpion Vetch

A local introduced casual esp. around London

Cytisus . . . . Broom

Cytisus multiflorus . . . . White Broom

White flowers; uncommon but scattered in Br

Cytisus scoparius . . . . Broom

Common on heathland

Cytisus scoparius ssp. maritimus . . . . Prostrate Broom

Local on maritime cliffs in the SW, CI and Ire

Cytisus striatus . . . . Hairy-fruited Broom

Scattered in Br N to Elgin


Ervilia hirsuta (was Vicia hirsuta) . . . Hairy Tare

Common weed in grassland and fields; calyx teeth equal

Other similar spp. with UNEQUAL calyx teeth:
Ervum tetraspermum (Smooth Tare - having 1-2 flowers)

and Ervum gracile (Slender Tare - having 1-4 flowers).

Also see V. lens

Ervilia sylvatica (was Vicia sylvatica) . . . Wood Vetch

Scattered throughout Br


Ervum tetraspermum (was Vicia tetrasperma) . . . Smooth Tare

Common in S and extending N to C Sc; has 3-6 pairs of lflets

Similar is E. gracile (Slender Tare); local in S; 2-4 pairs of leaflets


Galega officinalis . . . Goat's-Rue

Frequent on tips and waste places in S & C En


Genista anglica . . . . Petty Whin

Spiny stems; Br concentrated in Sc highlands, N & W Wa, SW, and CS En

Genista pilosa . . . . Hairy Greenweed

Rare in SW and SW Wa

Genista tinctoria . . . . Dyer's Greenweed

CI, E & Wa N to S Sc; small hairs on leaf edges


Hippocrepis comosa . . . . Horseshoe Vetch

Dry calcareous grassland and clifftops; local in Jersey and S Br

Hippocrepis emerus . . . . Scorpion Senna

Naturalised in a few places

Laburnum . . . . . Laburnum

Laburnum anagyroides . . . . Laburnum

Trees to c. 10 m, widely planted and frequently setting seed; plants with <50% seed set likely to be L. x watereri

Lathyrus . . . . . Pea

Peas have winged or angled stems (exc. L. oleraceus, L. tuberosus)

Among other spp. are: L. hirsutus (Hairy Vetchling), and L. palustris (Marsh Pea).

Lathyrus japonicus . . . . Sea Pea

2-6 pairs of leaflets; Very local on coasts

Lathyrus latifolius . . . . Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea

Leaflets <4x as long as broad, fls 15-30 mm; introduced as garden escape scattered across BI

Lathyrus linifolius . . . . Bitter-vetch

Common exc. E Anglia, C Ire

Lathyrus nissolia . . . . Grass Vetchling

Linear 'leaf' (actually flattened stem) only (like a grass); mostly in S En and Wa, but extending N to C Sc on grassland

Lathyrus odoratus . . . . Sweet Pea

1 pair leaflets only; Winged stems; Hairy pedicels/calyx with flowers sweet-smelling and >20mm

Lathyrus oleraceus (=Pisum sativum). . . . Garden Pea

Casual in waste places etc.; stem not winged; stipules &gt;leaflets

Lathyrus pratensis . . . . Meadow Vetchling

Common in grassy places

Lathyrus sylvestris . . . . Narrow-leaved Everlasting-pea

1 pair leaflets only; Winged stems; scattered N to C Sc

Lathyrus tuberosus . . . . Tuberous Pea

1 pair leaflets only; Stems not winged; casual scattered in Br


Leaves with five leaflets (the lowest two at base of leaf stalk and resembling stipules)
Five spp. recognised in UK

Lotus angustissimus . . . . Slender Bird's-foot-trefoil

Distinguished by the right-angled bend in the keel (Fig.1); Very local in S and CI

Lotus corniculatus . . . . Bird's-foot-trefoil

Common, esp. on dry grassy places

Lotus pedunculatus . . . . Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil

Stem hollow, v. long flower stalks, paler than L. corniculatus; damp places

Lotus subbiflorus . . . . Hairy Bird's-foot-trefoil

Very local sp. mostly in the SW and CI by the sea

Lotus tenuis . . . . Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot-trefoil

Uncommon sp., most frequent in S; leaflets narrow, 2-4 fls/head


Lupinus arboreus . . . . Tree Lupin

Scattered, esp. nr. coasts

Lupinus nootkatensis . . . . Nootka Lupin

C & N Sc (esp. on Tay)

Lupinus polyphyllus . . . . Garden Lupin and crosses with L. nootkatensis (Lupinus x pseudopolyphyllus)

Plants with unbranched stems and blue fls - prob. Lupinus polyphyllus while Lupinus x regalis has branched stems and multi-coloured fls

Other casual annual spp. include L. albus, L. luteus and L. angustifolius (below)

Medicago . . . . . Medick

Choose between following:

For comparison of M. polymorpha and M. lupulina see

But see also:

Medicago arabica . . . . Spotted Medick

Generally has black spots on lvs

Medicago lupulina . . . . Black Medick

Has snail-like fruits and fine points at tip of leaf

Can be confused with Trifolium dubium, but fruits characteristic

Medicago minima . . . . Bur Medick

Very local, mostly by the sea, CI and SE England; Very hairy

Medicago polymorpha . . . . Toothed Medick

Rather local by the sea in S and CI; generally slightly hairy, stipules (arrow) v. dissected

Medicago sativa . . . . Lucerne; Alfalfa

Often sown as forage and escapes

Melilotus . . . . . Melilots

Choose between following:

Melilotus albus . . . . White Melilot

En, Wa and C Sc, scattered elsewhere

Melilotus altissimus . . . . Tall Melilot

En, Wa, C Sc and SE Ire; fruits black when ripe, keel of fl equal to wings

Melilotus indicus . . . . Small Melilot

Note that this has smaller flowers (up to 3 mm) and net-ridged fruits, cf M.officinalis

Melilotus officinalis . . . . Ribbed Melilot

Note that this has larger flowers (up to 5 mm) and transversely ridged brown fruits, cf M.indicus; keel shorter than wings or standard of fl. (arrow)


Onobrychis viciifolia . . . . Sainfoin

Calcareous meadows esp. in S En


Ononis repens . . . . Restharrow

Hairy all round stem; common exc. NW Sc and NW Ire

Ononis spinosa . . . . Spiny Restharrow

Stems hairy on only 1 or 2 sides; less common than, and can be mistaken for spiny form of O. repens though generally more obviously woody and upright

Several other spp. can be found including the herbaceous O. reclinata (Small Restharrow - v. local on limestone esp. in Devon); several birdseed aliens (esp. O. alopecuroides, O. mitissima & O. baetica) and the yellow O. natrix


Ornithopus perpusillus . . . . Birds-foot

Tiny plant of short turf throughout Br but commoner in S, local in Ire

Ornithopus pinnatus . . . . Orange Birds-foot

A rare plant of dry grassland in CI and Scilly

The two spp. are shown together in the following:


Oxytropis campestris . . . . Yellow Milk-vetch

Rare plant of Scottish mountains - e.g. Corrie Fee

Oxytropis halleri . . . . Purple Milk-Vetch

Rare plant only in Sc, incl. N coast, nr. Nigg and Ben-y-Vrackie

Similar to Astraglus alpinus


Robinia pseudoacacia . . . . False Acacia; Black Locust

Tree to >25 m; scattered in En, Wa and CI; rare elsewhere

Crown vetch

Securigera varia . . . . Crown Vetch

A local casual scattered across En


Spartium junceum . . . . Spanish Broom

Trifolium . . . . Clovers

Choose from the following

Yellow ,       Pink       and       White       flowers

Yellow Clovers:

Beware easily confused Medicks ; but fruits are v. different:

Trifolium campestre . . . . Hop Trefoil

Common; >25 flowers/head

Trifolium dubium . . . . Lesser Trefoil

Common; apical leaflet with stalk >0.5 mm; <25 flowers/head (cf. T. campestre which has >25, an T. micranthum with <10)

Can be confused with

Trifolium micranthum . . . . Slender Trefoil

Commoner in the S; apical leaflet with stalk <0.5 mm; <10 flowers/head

Pink Clovers:

Trifolium angustifolium . . . . Narrow-leaved clover

A sporadic casual, esp. C En

Trifolium arvense . . . . Hare's-foot Clover

Locally frequent on sandy soils but absent from N & W Ir and Sc

Trifolium bocconei . . . . Twin-headed Clover

Rare, short turf by sea, Jersey, Lizard

Trifolium fragiferum . . . . Strawberry Clover

Rather scattered but locally common N to S Sc

For furry fruits see also:

Trifolium glomeratum . . Clustered Clover

Local in CI and SE

Trifolium hybridum . . . . Alsike Clover

Widespread - often planted in meadows; Note the obtuse angle between sepals (4th Fig.)

Trifolium incarnatum . . . . Crimson Clover

Sometimes grown for fodder or in wildflower mixes

Trifolium incarnatum ssp molinerii . . . . Long-headed Clover

Very rare (Jersey, Lizard, Devon)

Trifolium medium . . . . Zig-zag Clover

Grassy places thoughout most of BI; the long narrow stipules (see RHS of pic#3) distinguishes from T. pratense (see LHS of pic#3)

Trifolium pratense . . . . Red Clover

Common; distinguished from T. medium by having broad triangular stipules with long point (see pic#3 of T. medium)

Trifolium resupinatum . . . . Reversed Clover or Persian Clover

Trifolium squamosum . . . . Sea Clover

Local in short turf by the sea in S Br, CI; stipules narrow; fls 7-9 mm, upper lvs opposite

Trifolium striatum . . . . Knotted Clover

Short sandy grassland esp. near the sea from Angus S and E Ire

Trifolium strictum . . . . Upright Clover

Rare on rocky grassland, Jersey and SW Cornwall; calyx not inflated with open throat, stipules serrate with glandular tip

Comparison of T. strictum, T. striatum and T. scabrum

Trifolium tomentosum . . . . Woolly Clover

Sporadic casual; smaller fls (c.3-6 mm) than T. resupinatum, but also upside-down and v. woolly fruits

For furry fruits see also:

Trifolium occidentale . . . . Western Clover

Local in short turf by the sea; CI, Anglesea and SW

Similar to T. repens but leaves <10mm without light/dark patches; also sharp 'nick' at end of top petal

Trifolium ornithopodioides . . . . Bird's-foot Clover (sometimes called Bird's-foot Fenugreek)

Hairless (c.f. T. suffocatum); local, scattered around the coasts; shown with T. subterraneum in (4)

Trifolium repens . . . . White Clover

Common; distinguished from Western Clover by unnotched petals

Also an odd sport sometimes occurs:

Trifolium scabrum . . . . Rough Clover

Short sandy grassland esp. near the sea from Angus S and E Ire, less common than T. striatum

Trifolium subterraneum . . . . Subterraneum Clover

Hairy (c.f. T. ornithopodioides); short turf esp. by sea, rather scattered in S Br and E Ire

Trifolium suffocatum . . . . Suffocated Clover

Uncommon coastal plant in CI, Man and SE Br
Note that more than 40 spp. of Trifolium may be found in BI

Trigonella . . . . . Sickle-fruited Fenugreek

Trigonella corniculata . . . . Sickle-fruited Fenugreek


Spines rigid and deeply furrowed in U. europaeus (on L) but much less so in U. gallii (on R)

Ulex europaeus . . Gorse

Widespread, flowers mainly in the spring, needles grooved

Ulex minor . . Dwarf Gorse

Up to a m or so tall, flowers primarily in summer, softer ungrooved spines than others; concentrated on heathland in S C En, scattered elsewhere

Ulex gallii . . Western Gorse

Prostrate - sometimes to about 150 cm tall, flowers in summer, needles with only faint grooves; most common from CI northwards along W Br and Ire N to N En


Choose from the following:

See also:

Other spp. include V. orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch), V. bithynica (Bithynian Vetch), V. pannonica (Hungarian Vetch) and V. villosa (Hairy Vetch)

Vicia cracca . . Tufted Vetch

Common throughout BI; fls 8-12 mm

V. tenuifolia (Fine-leaved Vetch) is similar but with larger fls (12-18 mm)

Vicia lathyroides . . Spring Vetch

Mostly around coast of Br and SE Ire; flowers v. small (<9mm)

Vicia lens (was Lens culinaris). . . . . Lentil

Casual grain alien

See also Ervilia hirsuta

Vicia lutea . . Yellow Vetch

Rather local across Br, though most frequent on S coast and Guernsey

Vicia sativa . . Common Vetch

NB Often split into 3 ssp. V. s. ssp. nigra (has upper leaf leaflets narrower than lower leaves; flowers evenly coloured), cf. others with more or less even leaves and pale standard: V. s. ssp. segetum fruits hairy (yellow-brown) and the rather less common V. s. ssp. sativa (fruits smooth hairless, brown-black)

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra . . Common Vetch

Common throughout BI (even coloured flowers)

Vicia sativa subsp. segetalis . . Common Vetch

Common S of C Sc, and in S Ire (flower with pale standard)

Vicia sepium . . Bush Vetch

Common throughout BI

Other spp. include the perennial V. orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch) lvs with tendrils, scattered in W Br and in Ire; and rarer casuals such as V. bithynica (Bithynian Vetch), V. pannonica (Hungarian Vetch), V. villosa (Fodder Vetch)