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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Vicia (Broad Bean genus)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Fabales > Family: Fabaceae > Subfamily: Papilionoideae

About 140 species, native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, with six species naturalised in southern Africa and a further 11 species that are cultivated in the region, including Vicia faba (Broad bean).

Species naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of southern Africa - an online checklist (SANBI) and Flora of Zimbabwe.

Vicia benghalensis (Reddish tufted vetch)

Native to southern Europe and North Africa. Naturalised in southern Africa. Creeper in disturbed habitats.

Vicia cracca


Vicia hirsuta (Hairy tare)

Native to Eurasia and North Africa.


Vicia sativa (Common vetch)

Native to Europe, North Africa and western Asia. Naturalised in southern Africa where it is encountered in disturbed habitats.

Vicia tetrasperma


Vicia villosa (Russian vetch)

Native from Europe to Afghanistan. See Flora of Zimbabwe.


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Vicia angustifolia

Native to Eurasia and North Africa.


Vicia articulata

Native to southern Europe.


Vicia dumetorum

Native to Europe.


Vicia faba (Broad bean, Faba bean, Horse bean, Tic bean)

Bean seeds and very young pods are eaten as a vegetable. Seeds have a high protein content of about 20-25%. Broad Bean was probably domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean region in the late Neolithic (about 6800- 4500 BC) but precise evidence is lacking and in addition we have no idea of the wild plant species from which it was derived. 

Vicia lutea (Yellow vetch)

Native from Europe to the Caucasus.


Vicia narbonensis

Native from southern Europe to Pakistan.


Vicia pampicola

Native to Argentina.


Vicia pannonica

Native from Czech Republic to Ukraine.


Vicia pubescens

Native to southern Europe.


Vicia unijuga

Native from Mongolia to Japan.


Vicia varia

Native to Europe.



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.