Anthyllis vulneraria - Kidney Vetch

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Fabales - Family: Fabaceae

Kidney vetch

This generally low-growing member of the pea family (fabaceae, formerly referred to as the legiminosae) has unusual flower heads; they are in two parts. One side will be coming into bloom while the other has semi-ripened seeds. Kidney vetch can be found on abandoned farmland, waysides and bare, stony ground as well as in coastal sand dune systems.

Kidney Vetch, Burren, Ireland

The colours of Kidney Vetch vary from yellow through orange to red.

Anthyllis vulneraria - Kidney Vetch


Anthyllis vulneraria is common and widespread in Britain and Ireland; it occurs also throughout mainland Europe. Kidney Vetch is a particularly common plant in the Mediterranean region, where the pink-flowered form is more often seen. Plants seen in Slovenia are generally a paler, lemon yellow than the ones we see in Britain.

Habitat and Blooming Times

In Northern Europe, Kidney Vetch blooms between April and September. Further south in the Mediterranean region the flowers appear much earlier in the year, but they are usually over by the end of May.


Anthyllis, the genus name, comes from the Greek words anthos- meaning flower, and -ioulos meaning downy (as are the undersides of leaves).

The specific epithet vulneraria means 'healer of wounds' - a reflection of past medicinal uses of this plant.

The yellow Kidney Vetch flowers shown on this page were seen growing on coastal cliffs in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, in July, while the pink specimen was photographed in the Algarve in April.

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