HORSESHOE VETCH

Hippocrepis comosa

Pea Family [Fabaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8red
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round

13th June 2009, Tennyson Down, Totland, IoW Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
A pallete of Horseshoe Vetch, which grows only on short chalk and limestone turfs.


22nd June 2009, Military Rd, Freshwater. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
Here clinging to calcareous cliff sides.


1st Oct 2007, Afton Cliff, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
Forms carpets.


120th June 2009, IoW Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Stems procumbent to half-erect to 30cm long (exceptionally 50cm).


23rd May 2008, Ashley Down Quarry. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Superficial resemblance to Bird's-foot-Trefoil, but the leaves are pinnate with 7 to 25 leaflets (rather than trefoil with just 5 leaflets).


10th June 2009, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Flowers yellow with red stripes (as yet un-opened flowee buds may have red tips - far left) in a flat rosette display.


13th June 2009, Tennyson Down, Totland, IoW Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
There are between 4 and 8 flowers (with extremes down to just 2 and up to 12) in a 'flat 'rosette'.


23rd May 2008, Ashey Down Quarry, Ryde, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The sepal tube becomes narrower before the 5 sepal teeth splay slightly outwards.


2nd June 2006, Warton Crag, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers with 5 petals, typical pea-type in shape, deep-yellow with narrow reddish stripes on the banner. Flowers 5-10mm (up to 14mm). Fruits (not shown yet) are 10-30mm long, very flat, often twisted into twirls, with 3-6 horse-shoe-shaped segments (hence the common name).


10th June 2009, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Leaves are pinnate, with between 7 and 25 leaflets, each leaflet being between 4-8mm long (with extremes of 2mm and 16mm) and oblong to ovate in shape.


23rd May 2008, Ashey Down Quarry, Ryde, IoW Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Each leaf has paired leaflets and a single one at the end.


Some similarities to : Bird's-foot-Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) but that has only 5 leaflets in a leaf.

No relation to : Horsetails (species of Equisetum) [a non-flowering plant with similar name].

It is a perennial which is native, occurring only locally in Britain as far north as Westmorland, and in Jersey. It only grows on chalky short grassland, cliffs and clifftops, with a greater concentration in the South. There is none within ~70 miles of Manchester, which is why your Author does not often see it.


  Hippocrepis comosa  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
 family8Pea family8Fabaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Hippocrepis
Hippocrepis
(Hoseshoe Vetches)

HORSESHOE VETCH

Hippocrepis comosa

Pea Family [Fabaceae]