Kidney vetch


Vaughn Matthews

Kidney Vetch

©Bruce Shortland

Kidney vetch

Scientific name: Anthyllis vulneraria
The small, yellow flowers and woolly appearance of kidney vetch make this plant easy to spot. Look for it growing low to the ground on sand dunes, chalk grasslands and cliffs in summer.

Species information


Height: up to 30cm

Conservation status


When to see

June to September


Kidney vetch is easily recognisable as clusters of small, yellow flowers sitting atop little woolly cushions. It is a distinctive feature of sand dunes, chalk grassland and cliffs across the UK. Flowering from June to September, this spreading plant can cover bare ground in the right conditions.

How to identify

Kidney vetch has round clusters of small flowers that are mainly yellow, but can also be orange and red. Each flower has its own hairy calyx (containing the sepals), giving the flower cluster its woolly appearance. The leaves of Kidney vetch are divided into narrow leaflets that are silky and white underneath.


Found throughout the UK, especially around the coast.

Did you know?

Also known as 'woundwort', kidney vetch was used by traditional herbalists to relieve swelling and heal wounds, and to treat stomach and, unsurprisingly, kidney problems.

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and coastal habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways these habitats are kept in good condition.