Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) is sometimes known as Ladies’ Fingers or Common Kitdneyvetch, is a member of the Pea Family. It can reach a height of between 10 – 40 cm with its creeping, erect stem.
The flowers are often a light yellow colour, occasionally the tips are red and are roughly 12 – 15mm in length. Each flower has 5 petals, but the base of this flower is often oval and woolly with a pale purple tip.
The leaves are often alternate on the stem, and can be either stalked or stalkless. The leaves are covered in a sparse amount of tiny hairs on the top side of the leaf with the underside having short, smooth hair.
Kidney vetch is a plant that does not do well when it has to compete with other plants and is squeezed into a small area. This is because Kidney Vetch is a small to medium sized flower and is identified by its silky leaves and the crowded flower head that is crammed with many small flowers each with the woolly base. It is a great food source for a wide variety of insects such as beetles and moth larvae but this plant is important as it is the only food source of the caterpillars of the small blue butterfly, it also provides nectar for wasps and bees.
Height: 5 – 40cm
Flowering Time: June to Sept
Preferred Conditions: This plant likes free draining chalk and limestone soils. It can also be found on grassland and near the sea on the sand dunes and shingle.