Vicia sativa is a sprawling annual herb, a member of the pea family Fabaceae, with hollow, four-sided, hairless to sparsely hairy stems which can reach two meters in maximum length. The leaves are stipulate, alternate and compound, each made up of 3 to 8 opposite pairs of linear, lance-shaped, oblong, or wedge-shaped, needle-tipped leaflets up to 3.5 centimeters long. Each compound leaf ends in a branched tendril. The pealike flowers occur in the leaf axils, solitary or in pairs. The flower corolla is 1 to 3 centimeters in length and bright pink-purple in color, more rarely whitish or yellow. The flowers are mostly visited by bumblebees. The fruit is a legume pod up to 6 or 7 centimeters long which is hairy when new and smooth later, brown or black when ripe. It contains 4-12 seeds.