Commonly seen growing on top of “green roofs” in Switzerland, kidney vetch carries the nickname “woundwort” owing to its marvelous capacity to heal minor cuts and scrapes. Viewed side by side, this botanical medicine and common clover would appear as fraternal twins, the obvious difference being kidney vetch’s yellow hue and clover’s greenish tint. Watching the flower heads turn to seed gives the observer a visual treat, as each individual bloom changes color—from yellow to orange to brown—at different times, thus offering the feasting eye a trio of chromatic shades on any given day!
What does it do?
Slow healing wounds improve when kidney vetch is applied topically. The vitally important process of skin regeneration is ably assisted when this green healer is added to the team. Skin eruptions and bruises also respond well to kidney vetch. Possessing laxative qualities, this herb brings comfort when constipation bottles up the body’s normal means of passing along solid waste. As an antitussive, kidney vetch is ready to be called upon to stop persistent coughs.
About the herb
Kidney vetch is native to North Africa and every niche of Europe (from chilly Iceland to the balmy shores of the Mediterranean), extending eastward to the Caucasus region. This plant is protected throughout most of Finland. Diminutive in size, this herb rises a mere 2 to 16 inches above the ground. Flowering from June to September, kidney vetch stretches across vast fields that seem to light up with the tiny plant’s yellow, orange and reddish splashes of color. A true hermaphrodite, the flowers possess both female and male organs. Bees, caterpillars and butterflies thrive by dining on kidney vetch’s nutrient rich pollen.
Add a teaspoon of dried or fresh flowers to a cup of boiled water and allow the brew to steep for 10 minutes before straining. Relax while slowly sipping a cup of kidney vetch whenever you want to treat your gastro-intestinal system to a tune-up. This herb tea is also valued as a spring tonic.