The Tufted Vetch is a very common plant, and all summer-time you find its masses of bright blue or purple flowers growing up the hedges. It belongs to the large family of Pea-plants, along with the Broom and the Trefoils, and you will find that its bright bluish-purple petals are shaped as curiously as those of the other Pea-plants.
Do not forget to look at the stamens. You will see that there is one stamen whose slender stem is not joined with the others, but has a separate stalk of its own.
The flowers grow in clusters on a stiff stalk; the buds are at the end of the stalk, and the flowers that grow lowest on the stalk always open first. When the flower is withered, the seed-vessel grows into a small green pea-pod which has a curly tail at the end, and when the seeds are ripe, this pod turns brown.
The leaves are made up of short pointed straps, set opposite each other in pairs on each side of a thin stalk. You will often find ten pairs of little straps, and at the end of the stalk there grow curly green threads called tendrils. This Tufted Vetch is one of these climbing plants which are not strong enough to stand alone; so these tendrils curl themselves round the twigs of the hedges, and this helps the plant to rise high above the ground.
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