Kidney Vetch - Anthyllis vulneraria L.

Kidney Vetch

Synonyms: none

Scientific Name: Anthyllis vulneraria L.

Family: Pea family (Leguminosae/Fabaceae)


Kidney Vetch is a native of Southern Europe but is now found throughout the whole of Europe, Western Asia, North Africa and America.


Small amounts of saponins and tannins, xanthophyll, organic pigments.


From a distance you think you are looking at a sea of yellowish-orange flowerheads hovering over richly green pinnate leaf rosettes. A closer look reveals that the flowers are actually yellow and turn orange-brown as they fade. Kidney Vetch can reach a height of 6 to 14 inches (15 to 35 cm). The stems are frequently prostrate but also often raise themselves upwards presenting to the onlooker the dense clusters of yellow papillonaceous flowers which can be seen from April to June. A striking feature of the plant is that all parts are softly hairy. The chalk-loving plant is found on untilled fields and clover fields, by the wayside and on sunny slopes but never where the soil is overfertilized. A special feature of Kidney Vetch is the marked variability of its appearance depending on the site, an expression of its pronounced adaptability.

Interesting Facts

The scientific name of the plant is derived from its appearance and use: anthos = flower, ioulos = down and vulnus = wound together give a softly hairy flowering plant used for the treatment of wounds. The common name derives from the fact that the plant was also used for the treatment of kidney troubles.

Kidney Vetch probably only gained significance in Germany in the course of the 16th century and was valued in traditional medicine for the treatment of wounds.

The caterpillar of the smallest butterfly in Germany, the Small Blue (Cupido minimus), feeds on Kidney Vetch. Kidney Vetch and Bladder Senna are the only plants they eat. Wild bees also value Kidney Vetch as a source of nectar.

The plant from another perspective

The vigorous upward and spreading growth of Kidney Vetch is the expression of its strong vegetative power. It is this power that strengthens the injured human organism. However, Kidney Vetch does not grow rampant but with refined culture. The power that fortifies the wound healing process is therefore not uncontrolled, but balanced and finely regulating. The plant's polymorphism is also an expression of its balancing power. In the same way as it adapts itself to different external circumstances, Kidney Vetch also helps different skin types to develop in the direction of a balanced, healthy skin. The balanced growth of the plant, which is at the same time an expression of the balance between building-up and breaking-down processes, is offered to the skin, supporting its resistance to drying environmental influences and free radicals that may promote the aging process. The balancing of the building-up and breaking-down processes in the skin's stratum corneum helps refine the skin and makes it noticeably softer.

The plant in our products

On account of its positive influence on the skin, Kidney Vetch is one of the key plants in Dr. Hauschka Skin Care and is contained in many of the face care products and make-up, e.g. in: