Translated notes from:

Mateo-Box, J. M. (1961) Leguminosas de grano. Barcelona: Ed. Salvat.
V. narbonensis pp.145-151.

Alberjón ( Vicia narbonensis L.)

Other spanish names: Fabera borda, haba loca

french : Féve de chevaux, Vesce de Narbonne

italian : Fava salvativa, Favanera

german: Maus-wicke, Schwarze Ackerbohne


Originating from the mediterranean center, this is a species with very much affinity to V. faba L. Its utilization is, however, much more limited and its area of cultivation restricted to a few local areas in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and other meridional countries.

The affinity to V.faba made some botanists believe that it is the ancestor of the broad bean, however, Senjaninova through cytogenetic studies demonstrated the existence of another primitive form from which both, V.faba and V. narbonensis evolved. Thus, V. narbonensis and its variety serratifolia Jacq., for one part, and the broad bean for the other, produce distinctive types which clearly differ in their chromosome length from each other. Interspecific hybridization has not led to any success to date


Annual plants with well established rootsystems (root systems have the ability to penetrate and establish well[ con raices penetrantes bien desarrolladas, upight stems, branched, in cross section quadrangular, which can reach a height of 70-80 cms. the leaves are made up of 2-6 leaflets in pairs, branched tendrils, large leaflets, oval shaped, the edge of which is serrate, of charcteristic green-gray colour, stipules almost entire and of good size. Inflorescence is few-flowered, with large flowers, violet to red(rojizo) (muy) variable and with the differnt parts of the corrolla in differnt otnes9shades0; fruits 5-7cms long, (bastante)pods? wide, the form of the seeds manifesting itself on the outside, terminating in short curved end, almost black, with glabrous pods, with the dorsal and ventral sutures hairy, containing 6-7 seeds. These seeds(palte 1,18) are globose with indentations, 7-9mm in diameter, of dull(pardobscuro)or black colour, hilum whitish and of good length(fig 60). One hectolitre weighs 75-80kg






hectolitre weight

upright,stems branched, cross-section quadrangular

oval, green-gray colour, branched tendrils

violet-red(purple), 1-3

wrinkled, seeds shapes can be seen, black

7-9mm, whitish hilum


Plantlet(fig 61)

Plantlets are vigorous,(carnosas), with a principal root(gruesa), well branched of white (hueso0 colour. Hypocotyl is much reduced, the cotyledons(redondeados), which produce on their insertion with the epicotyl a(brote) leaf (bien patente). The epicotyl is 1cm long, vigorpus and it can produce(cortas pero fuertes) adventitious roots. The first node gives rise to an(catafilo) large stipule, of a green clear colour which (encierra un pequeño esbozo foliar, which encapsules a small leaf)(a). the second node is indented(b)

The first leaves give rise to well developed stipules, of good size, symmetrical leaves of a more or less pointed shape.

The following leaves are composed of two leaflets of normal green colour, with (peciolo) leaf terminating in a mucro(tendril?)


The Alberjón or narbonne vetch is a cultivated legume in some mediterranean countries, amongst these spain, where annual area amounts to 7000has, with a global production of 46.000 metric quintals

The plant is cultivated for its seed and as a forage crop, even though it is substituted by V.faba in many regions as a grain crop and by V.sativa as the major forage plant.

(También) it is also confused with other types of large-seeded vetch, especially with the subspecies obovata, variety macrocarpa Moris.,although the seeds and plants do not give any possibility for such a confusion.

In those places where it is cultivated, the major reason for justifying the emplyment of this species inplace of broad beans or common vetch is the major resistance of alberjón to the <<jopo>> and to aphids.

The grain can be used to feed cattle, especially calves, which take it better than pigs and sheep, always when fed crushed.. Like the common vetch, los alberjónes contain a certain amount of acidic glucosides, which do not affect the appetiteof cattle(que acaba acostumbrándose), but it seems that it has some effect on the taste of the milk. los aves de coral(farm birds, running around, free range birds) only eat it with difficulty and it does not seem to be any good for them.

As a forage plant, los alberjónes are best utilized, above all in hot and dry and also mild climatic (clima suave)zones; the forage is of excellent quality and much appreciated for all types of cattle. Produced (asismismo), (sobre) total in mixtures with other vetches or with some cereal(barley or oats), a good material first for silage, but only if it is cut at flowering and ground(chopped?) well[pica]

According to Gonçalves Cidraes(ref 38) it is best sown in autumn when followed by another crop in spring and in places where late cultivation is not possible.

In hot and dry regions it is an excellent legume for ploughing in green.


It requires temperatures (más) much higher than broad beans, (pero) it is less exigient on humidity-needs less moisture. It is therefore that this species has been substituted(ventajosamente) for broad beans in hot and dry areas.

It does not esist cold very well(sucumniendo con facilidad ante heladas fuertes) it can not stand frozen temperatures in wet soils, it does not resist cold very well, it succumbs easliy to fierce heladas.

In contrast, in dry, well-worked soil, even when the aerial parts suffer from low temperatures, the roots resist and can regrow in spring.

It prefers loose and alkaline(provided with calcium) soils, deep and well drained but it tolerates argillose soils (los arcillosos), with (tal) not in excess of water.

Soil preparation

The cultivation of this species is the same as for common vetch

Use nitrogen sparingly to supply pre-nodulation N and apply N in spring, especially if intende use is for foage.


No good for spring cultivation unless this is done early


for green manure sow thicker.

For autumn sowing to obtain grain , 60-80kg/ha, for green forage 80-100kg, and for green manure or silage 100-110kg/ha are recommended. In spring use 10% of less of the given rates. depth of sowing should be 5-6cm.

It is not economic to cultivate this plant under irrigation except in disease ridden areas.

Normally pods dehisce like other vetches but a little bit less.