Anthyllis macrocephala Wend. - Macrocephalous kidney-vetch.

Taxonomic position.

Family: Fabaceae Lindl.; genus: Anthyllis L.


A. grossheimii Chinth. p.p. excl. typo, A. polyphylla Kit. ex Loud., A. vulnearia L. subsp. polyphylla (Ser.) Nym. p.p.

Morphology and biology.

Biennial or perennial plant. Stems (1-6 in number) are erect and tall, 25-50 cm in height, thick, robust and straight, branchy in the upper part. The lower part of the stems is covered with long and stiff squarrose hairs. Root leaves have 1-2 pairs of small lateral leaflets and a large ovoid or elliptic terminal leaflet ending with a rounded tip or a small sharp point. Stem leaves are 3-6 in number; they are uniformly distributed along the stem or may be absent in the upper one third. Usually there are 5-6 pairs of leaflets on a leaf, elliptic or ovate on the lower leaves and linear-lanceolate in the upper ones. The terminal leaflet is large and obtuse in a lower leaf and sharpened in an upper one. Leaflets of the uppermost leaf are often drawn together, so this leaf looks like a digitate one. All leaflets are naked or covered with sparsely set small rough hairs from above, and rather thickly villous from below owing to slightly squarrose long rough hairs. Leafstalks are covered with small squarrose hairs. Inflorescence may be single, set on the top of a stem, or they are several (2-4), connivent enough, large (3-5 cm in diameter), compact and polyanthous. Bract leaves are equal in length to the calyx, dissected deeper than by one half. Calyx is long and narrow, 12 mm in length and 3-5 mm in width, a little swollen under fruit, covered with long squarrose hairs, pale coloured. Corolla is usually yellow, often with a reddish-tipped carina, less frequently reddish all over. Banner blade is short, about 6 mm in length, with an unguis 6-7 mm long. Blossoms in June; bears fruit in August. Entomophilous.


In the former USSR: European part, Baltic republics (Estonia and Lithuania), Ladoga-Ilmen, Dvina-Pechora, Upper and Middle Dvina, Upper Volga, Volga-Don, Black Sea Coast, Crimea, and Upper Dnestr regions; Caucasus (Ante-Caucasus and Daghestan). General distribution: Middle Europe.


Steppes; steppe-like mountainsides and gullies; dry meadows and river alluvia (especially along riverbed warps); open grassy sites, slopes, hills, pinewoods, forest glades and edges, groves, bushes, heather wastes, fields and pastures. On any soils: black soil, loam, sand and limestone, occasionally on chalk.

Utilization and economic value.

Good forage plant, readily eaten by livestock, especially sheep and goats. Experts credit good quality of some sheep breeds to the ample presence of this species on the pastures. This plant is very undemanding to the environments and soils. As a forage plant, it yields only one cutting, thus being less productive as clover. Herbs also contain colouring and tanning agents. Previously it was used in medicine as an astringent and to heal sores.


Cherepanov, S.K. 1995. Plantae Vasculares Rossicae et Civitatum Collimitanearum (in limicis USSR olim). St-Petersburg, "Mir I Semia", 990 p. (in Russian).
Flora European part of the USSR, 1987. Vol. VI. Fedorov A.A.(ed.). L.: Nauka, pp. 100-103. (in Russian).
Flora USSR, 1945. Vol. XI. Shishkin B.K. (ed.) M.-L., pp. 274-277. (in Russian).
Tsvelev, N.N. 2000. Vascular plants of Russia and the contiguous states (Leningrad, Pskov and Novgorod district). St.Petersburg, Publishing House of SPHFA, 781 p. (in Russian).

© Smekalova T.N.


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