Monday, May 12, 2008

Hairy Tare (Vicia hirsuta)

20080511 Metre & Wbx 001

20080511 Metre & Wbx 003

20080511 Metre & Wbx 009

Today I identified the vetch, which is now flowering as hairy tare (Vicia hirsuta). Having remained a very small plant throughout the winter, it has grown rapidly over the last month and is now the largest plant in Wbx. Clearly it is finding ample nutrient. As far as I know it grows nowhere else in the garden and in the Square Metre the very similar smooth tare (Vicia tetrasperma) fills an equivalent ecological niche.  Hairy tare is flowering a week or two earlier than smooth tare and the latter is said to prefer damper conditions.

I wonder if the hairy tare is the same as the plant mentioned in the Bible’s New Testament. Matthew Chapter 13 says, for example: “tares are the children of the wicked one.” Devilish plants that strangle their neighbours. Certainly the Wbx tare has a fine capacity to overwhelm but, as an annual, it may only be a short term dominance.