The WALA Plant Library
Kidney Vetch

Synonyms for Kidney Vetch: none
Scientific Name: Anthyllis vulneraria L.
Family: Pea family (Leguminosae/Fabaceae)


From the distance you think you are looking at a sea of yellowish-orange flowerheads hovering over richly green pinnate leaf rosettes. A closer look reveals that the flowers are actually yellow and turn orange-brown as they fade. Kidney Vetch can reach a height of 15 to 35 cm (6 to 14 inches). The stems are frequently prostrate but also often raise themselves upwards presenting to the onlooker the dense clusters of yellow papillonaceous flowers which can be seen from April to June. A striking feature of the plant is that all parts are softly hairy. The chalk-loving plant is found on untilled fields and clover fields, by the wayside and on sunny slopes but never where the soil is overfertilized. A special feature of Kidney Vetch is the marked variability of its appearance depending on the site, an expression of its pronounced adaptability.