Lathyrus pratensis - Meadow Vetchling

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Fabales - Family: Fabaceae

Lathyrus pratensis

This scrambling perennial plant can grow to 1.5m in height, supporting itself by clinging to more sturdy plants, hedges or fences using the tendrils at the terminal points of its leaves. Usually, however, plants are much shorter - typically 0.3 to 0.6m in height.

Tendril of Meadow Vetchling


Long upright squarish stems bear short spike-like racemes of 5-12 bright-yellow flowers. The individual flowers are 12-18mm long and have five yellow petals backed by five small green sepals. The upright petal forms the 'standard' with two lateral petals forming the wings, while the final two petals are fused and form the 'keel'. Flowers eventually produce pea-like black seed pods 25-35mm long.

Lathyrus pratensis, Wales UK

There are short-stalked alternate leaves with a pair of arrowhead stipules (see picture below); each leaf comprises one pair of lanceolate leaf blades and a terminal leaf modified to form a (usually) unbranched tendril.

Arrowhead-shaped stipukle of Lathyrus pratensisLathyrus pratensis, Meadow Vetchling


Meadow Vetchling is common and widespread in Britain and Ireland. This species is native to Europe and Asia but has been introduced to many other temperate regions of the world including some parts of the north-west USA.


This is a wildflower of grassy wasteland, permanent pastures, roadside verges, railway embankments and woodland edges.

Flowering times

In Britain and Ireland Meadow Vetchling produces its flowers from May until August.

Lathyrus pratensis, Wales

The Meadow Vetchling specimens shown on this page were photographed near Ffostrasol in West Wales, UK, in late June.

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