Common vetch-Vicia sativa L.-Poisonous plant

Common vetch

General poisoning notes:

Common vetch (Vicia sativa) was introduced as a forage plant and is naturalized across much of Canada. Some horses and other livestock that ingested the plant were poisoned. However, these reports are in the older European literature. In the western United States, poultry that ingested the seeds of common milk vetch were poisoned and died. Common milk vetch contains a neurolathyrogen that may be partly responsible for neurolathyrism, which usually occurs in humans in India and is associated with species of grass pea (see notes under Lathyrus sativus) (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Cheeke and Schull 1985).


Scientific Name: Vicia sativa L.
Vernacular name(s): common vetch
Scientific family name: Leguminosae
Vernacular family name: pea

Geographic Information

British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec.

Toxic parts:


Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

The toxic amino acid, beta-cyano-L-alanine, is a neurolathyrogen that affects the nervous system (Cheeke and Schull 1985, Roy and Spencer 1989).

Toxic plant chemicals:


Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.


General symptoms of poisoning:

Blindness, convulsions, death.
Notes on poisoning:
In western Oregon, some chicks died after ingesting seeds of common milk vetch. Symptoms included blindness, convulsions, and a a pronounced chirping, resembling a pyridoxine deficiency. Experimental feeding of a diet containing 30-80% seeds has caused these symptoms in poultry (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Cheeke and Schull 1985).


General symptoms of poisoning:

Abdominal pains, weakness, weakness, posterior.
Notes on poisoning:
Older European literature describes poisoning of livestock after the animals ingested common vetch. The symptoms included skin lesions, hair loss, digestive disturbances, and sometimes a loss of use of hindquarters. Postmortem examination revealed enlargement of the liver. These problems have not been reported recently (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

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