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Native Anthyllis at Ivywood

Kidney Vetch Flower

This beautiful native wild plant appeared a couple of weeks ago at Ivywood. I’ve been enjoying watching it spread around a dry grassy area near the young apple trees.
It name is Kidney Vetch - Anthyllis vulneraria or Méara Muire in Irish.  

As its Latin name suggests it was indeed used as a vulnerary aiding the healing of wounds, bruises, and skin eruptions. There are not many accounts recorded on this native plant’s traditional uses. It was thought to be a remedy for the kidneys due to the kidney shape flowers but beyond that fact there is no known use of it for actual kidney conditions. As was the fate of many plants throughout history, an understanding of its uses could have been lost as the oral tradition of passing down knowledge became less common.  In Ireland, the sad loss of our traditional medicines and our connection to this land was compounded by the tragic decline of our native language.

I read that Anthyllis vulneraria has a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria in the soil which form nodules on its roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen! As a Fabaceae family plant this doesn’t surprise me. Just like other Pea family relatives it uses the nitrogen created for its own growth and also shares it with neighbouring plants.

It’s always exciting when plants make themselves known to you for the first time. This beauty wasn’t growing here the last few years. It’s such a stunning bright plant, I’m sure I would have noticed it!  Hopefully, it will stay giving me the chance to get to know it a little better and maybe even consider making an oil or drying it to use in creams and ointments. For the moment I’m happy observing the bumble bees feeding from it and the way it changes from bright yellow to rusty orange.