Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), wild form, three plants in three 7cm square pots
Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria)
An equally attractive plant for the garden or wilderness, Kidney Vetch has round clusters of small flowers which have a characteristic woolly appearance; they are usually yellow, but sometimes orange and red. The leaves are silky and white underneath. It can cope with dry conditions and is found on chalk grassland, cliffs and limestone areas, and around the coast of most of Britain.
Flowering from around April to September, Kidney Vetch is a great source of nectar for adult butterflies and other pollinating insects, as well as being a favourite foodplant of caterpillars of several butterfly species.
It is eaten by caterpillars of the delightful Small Blue Butterfly (Cupido minimus) which as its name suggests is one of our smallest butterflies. Growing on chalk soils, Kidney Vetch faces a constant challenge from aggressive agricultural grasses and other species, and in the absence of gentle grazing of the grass by herbivores may need our help to become established.
At a glance, with its pretty yellow, pea-like flowers Kidney Vetch could be mistaken for Bird's-foot Trefoil, both of which are attractive as a nectar source to Small Blues, Common Blues, and other adult butterflies.
The female Small Blue seeks out Kidney Vetch growing in a sunny sheltered spot on which to lay her eggs which she positions carefully within the flower buds. It is the buds and seed that are eaten by the emerging caterpillars. The caterpillars of two species of butterfly which like the Small Blue are mainly confined to the south of England - the Chalk Hill Blue (Lysandra coridon) and Adonis Blue (Lysandra bellargus) - feed instead on the leaves.
You are purchasing 3 kidney vetch plants (the native species not an agricultural cultivar) in 7 cm square pots that have been grown by us at our nursery in Cupar, Fife, from native seed.