KIDNEY VETCH

LADY'S FINGERS

Anthyllis vulneraria

Pea Family [Fabaceae]  

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status
statusZnative
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8purple
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round

7th June 2005, Strandline, south of Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A stretch of Vetch.


7th June 2005, Strandline, south of Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Showing typical vetch-type leaves.


21st May 2007, Stockton Brook locks, Caldon Canal, Staffordshire. Photo: © RWD
A small clump helpfully overhanging the towpath edge.


7th June 2005, Strandline, south of Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The florets grow amidst a fluff of fine hairs looking like cotton-wool.


21st May 2007, Stockton Brook locks, Caldon Canal, Staffordshire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are finely hairy and pointed.


21st May 2007, Stockton Brook locks, Caldon Canal, Staffordshire. Photo: © RWD
Typical pea-like yellow flowers.


8th June 2007, near Dockray, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Some plants are very hairy.


2nd July 2015, dunes, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The very hairy leaves just below the flower-head are 4- or 5-fingered and close together. The stem is covered in short white appressed hairs.


14th July 2010, Freshfields Dunes, Sefton Coast, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers withering, turning to seed.


2nd July 2015, dunes, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The two keels of the flowers are usually well hidden within the two wings. Spent flowers remain on the flower-head and turn a tan-brown and the wings part slightly to reveal the small keel within (top, middle).


7th June 2005, Strandline, south of Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
After flowering the seeds are amidst cotton downy fibres.


7th June 2005, Strandline, south of Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Kidney Vetch always has a fuzzy look.


3rd Sept 2005, Helsby Hill, Helsby, Sandstone Trail. Photo: © RWD
End of season.


21st Sept 2013, Marshside, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
End of season. Basal leaves often hidden by mass of flowers, now exposed.


21st Sept 2013, Marshside, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Basal leaves a glaucous greyish-green is irregularly lobed (sometimes very deeply so - lower left) on a stalk as long as the leaf.


21st Sept 2013, Marshside, Southport, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Leaves thick and often fleshy. Uppersides matte, leaf stalks and underside hairy (lower leaf).


The Red form

6th June 2016, coastal fringe, Anglesea, Wales. Photo: © Sally Tolladay
The red form of Anthylis vulneria, but, growing in Anglesea. This is probably not Anthylis vulneria var. coccinea which Prof. Stace says grows in West Cornwall and Pembrokeshire. There is also a pink form.


Easily confused with : five other sub-species of Kidney Vetches, if you can find them. Sub-species, according to BSBI. Two are in decline and have not been spotted in the UK for decades, the others are still around in some places. Luckily, none of the others are to be found where the author found the most abundant of Kidney Vetches, the one detailed here.

Distinguishing Feature : A flower-head consisting of a small ping-pong-sized fuzzy balls with numerous small yellow Pea-Family like flowers protruding from what looks like a ball of cotton wool. Very distinctive. A unique feature were it not for the fact that there are another 5 sub-species, probably all looking much the same.

Kidney Vetch is highly variable, with flowers varying from pale to deep yellow, orange or scarlet-red. It is quite possible that the photos from the Caldon Canal represent the sub-species anthyllis vulneraria ssp. polyphylla, but since the Author can find no photographs of this sub-species, it can only be an educated guess based on nothing more than the BSBI distribution map.

BSBI distribution of sub-species anthyllis vulneraria ssp. polyphylla. On the other hand, it might not be.

There are 5 sub-species of Anthyllis vulneraria :

  • ssp. carpatica which occurs in only a few hectads scattered around the UK except Eire.
  • ssp. corbierei which hasn't been seen since 2009 and then only in one hectad near Penzance. [RRR]
  • ssp. lapponica which occurs in a few scattered hectads in Scotland and especially Eire near Wexford. [RR]
  • ssp. polyphylla which occurs in only a few hectads scattered around the UK except Eire. Is more leafy with bigger leaves than ssp. vulneria
  • ssp. vulneraria which is the modal species.
which may explain away most of any observed variability. However, these sub-species are themselves variable and several specimens should be examined before any conclusion is reached (if any can be). They differ only in subtle ways to do with the hairs, whether appressed or not, the calyx whether tipped with red or not, the colour shade of yellow of the corolla, the exact arrangement of the leaflets, and whether the leaves look 'kind of' succulent or not. All airy-fairy stuff.

On top of that the ssp. vulneria appears to be sub-divided into differing varieties:

  • var. coccinea
  • var. langei
  • var. iberica
  • var. pseudovulneria the modal variety.
which differ in even more subtle ways from ssp. vulneria.

So the Author hopes the Reader will forgive him for not identifying the exact sub-species and variety that the above specimens represent, although it seems a good bet that most are of ssp. vulneraria var. pseudovulneria. Maybe...

It prefers a dry habitat, on sea cliffs and mountain ledges or open limy grassland. The specimens proliferating at the Southport locality are all on very sandy vegetation-covered soils just above the high-water mark, so it will be salt-tolerant.

Almost the whole plant, especially the flowers and flower-heads, are covered in long soft white hairs. This is not a pappus, however, the seeds are not, as far as the Author knows, borne by the wind. Gale Force 10 or Hurricane maybe...

Often grows close to the sea above the high-water mark, or on sea cliffs or dry and open chalky grassland. Also on mountain ledges, although your Author has never seen it there, but maybe that's because he tends to avoid dangerously steep places on mountains.


  Anthyllis vulneraria  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
family8Pea family8Fabaceae  family8Leguminosae

 BSBI maps
genus8anthyllis
Anthyllis
(Kidney Vetch)

KIDNEY VETCH

LADY'S FINGERS

Anthyllis vulneraria

Pea Family [Fabaceae]  

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