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Horseshoe vetch

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Scientific name: Hippocrepis comosa
Horseshoe vetch is a member of the pea family, so displays bright yellow, pea-like flowers and seed pods. Look for this low-growing plant on chalk grasslands from May to July.

Top facts


Height: up to 20cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to July


The perennial Horseshoe vetch is an essential plant for the Chalkhill and Adonis Blue butterflies as their caterpillars feed solely on it; it is also used by the Dingy Skipper. It is a low-growing plant, with yellow pea-like flowers that appear from May to July on chalk and limestone grasslands with short turf. The common name is thought to come from the shape of the seed pods, which are twisted and have horseshoe-like segments.

What to look for

Horseshoe vetch displays between five and twelve small, bright yellow, pea-like flowers on each head. It has small, green, folded, oval leaves.

Where to find

Mainly found in England.

Did you know?

Chalk grasslands bloom with wildflowers all summer long, supporting important populations of butterflies, moths and other invertebrates. In these special places, Horseshoe Vetch can be found alongside Bee Orchids, Common Rock-rose and Greater Knapweed.