A perennial herb of rock outcrops and open turf on S.-facing slopes, on free-draining neutral to base-rich, often calcareous, soils. On the coast it is found on sea-cliffs, shingle and sand dunes. It is increasing as an alien on roadsides. Generally lowland, but reaching 945 m (Ben Lawers, Mid Perth).
The native distribution is stable. Five subspecies are known in our area; subsp. vulneraria is found throughout the range of the species, subsp. polyphylla is a sporadic alien, subsp. corbierei is found on a few sea-cliffs and subsp. carpatica and subsp. lapponica are mapped separately.
European Boreo-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.
Light (Ellenberg): 8
Moisture (Ellenberg): 4
Reaction (Ellenberg): 7
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.6
Annual Precipitation (mm): 1030
RDB Species Accounts
The account below is for the sub-species. Closely related species and sub-species may have separate accounts listed elsewhere in the Online New Atlas
Anthyllis vulneraria ssp. corbierei (Salmon & Travis) Cullen (Fabaceae)
Kidney vetch, Placen Felen
Status in Britain: LOWER RISK – Near Threatened. Possibly ENDEMIC.
The genus Anthyllis is taxonomically complex, with many intergrading variants which are to some extent ecologically and geographically separated. Subspecies corbierei is much the rarest of the four subspecies native to Britain, and is confined to coastal habitats. It is principally a plant of grassy sea-cliffs and rocky slopes, accompanying such species as Cochlearia officinalis, Daucus carota, Festuca rubra, Plantago maritima, Scilla verna, Silene uniflora and Tripleurospermum maritimum, but also occurs on dunes and dune grassland.
It is a perennial, flowering in midsummer. The reproductive biology of this subspecies has not been investigated, though it is likely to be similar to that of subspecies vulneraria: protandrous flowers pollinated by insects, and reproduction entirely by seed.
Subspecies corbierei has been recorded at few sites in Britain; apparently only two in Cornwall, several in Anglesey between Aberffraw and South Stack (Roberts 1982), and one in Caithness. It may be overlooked and more widespread (e.g. Stace 1991), though it has not been found during recent occasional investigations of Anthyllis populations at a number of sites in South Wales and on the Lleyn peninsula (Jones 1994). It is noteworthy that in Cornwall, a well-botanised county, there are only two records, made in 1933 and 1958 (Margetts & David 1981). The distribution of types and intermediates needs further investigation in western and northern Britain.
Elsewhere, subspecies corbierei is recorded only on Sark, though searches on the coast of France may reveal its presence there (Cullen 1986).
M. J. Wigginton
PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.