Thursday’s Feature: Anthyllis vulneraria

Last week Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome decided to revive an old meme called Thursday’s Feature. She has asked us to join her in focussing on a plant each Thursday and posting about it. So, here is my first contribution. Please join in if you can, and do visit Kimberley too!

So today I am featuring this pretty little plant: Anthyllis vulneraria ssp coccinea.

image

Hiding under some Evening Primrose foliage

I bought this at a plant sale two years ago, with the hope it would spread like mad in my rockery. Well, this year another small plant has flowered next to it, but it hasn’t seeded around as much as I had hoped. Still, the bright orange-red flowers are quite eye-catching and a small plant does stand out well.

image

I am really happy with it as it needs no attention at all, and is therefore perfect in a rockery where accessibility is tricky, or as edging to a driveway or lawn; it only reaches a height of around 20cm.

Anthyllis vulneraria ssp coccinea is commonly known as Red Kidney Vetch and flowers prettily from May to June and then intermittently throughout the summer. In the wild the yellow flower (which has orange tinges as it goes over) can be found more frequently and is native to Europe, whereas this red subspecies originates from the hillsides of Latvia or Estonia. It prefers chalky well-drained and poor soil – which means its habitat is shrinking as the use of agricultural fertilisers expands – and it is hardy down to -23°C.

image

The common name in German is ‘Wundklee’, which translates as ‘wound clover’ and reminds us of its use as a herbal remedy for wounds and ulcers. It can be pressed directly onto the skin making it handy for hikers with a blister! It is also an ingredient in some of the vegan cosmetic articles stocked by my local health food shop! However, it can also be used as a tea for many other ailments including digestive disorders and coughs.

I haven’t got enough of it yet to start making tea, but will be looking out for the native yellow flowers on future walks.

Have you seen this flower before, either yellow or red?