Open the Advanced Search

Scorpion Senna

Coronilla emerus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, rocky places, scrub, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Small clusters of pale yellow, pea-like flowers.
After flowering, the flowers turn into long, cylindrical seed pods and consist of anything between 3 and 12 segments. The long and slender seed pods measure anything up to 10cm in length. They hang down like a scorpions tail.
A perennial plant with compound, bright green leaves. Each leaf consists of 5 to 9 leaflets. Leaves measure approximately 6cm across.
The flowers are sweet-scented.
Other Names:
Crown Vetch, False Senna, Mediterranean Crown Vetch.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Coronilla emerus, also known as Mediterranean crown vetch, is a species of legume that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a perennial herb that typically grows to be about 1-2 meters tall and has pinnate leaves and small, yellowish-white flowers that grow in clusters. The plant is known for its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, making it useful for soil improvement and erosion control. It is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens, and it is known for its medicinal properties, in traditional medicine it is used as a treatment for various ailments, including digestive problems and respiratory issues.


Coronilla emerus, commonly known as Crown vetch, is a flowering plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. Native to Europe, this perennial herb has become naturalized in many parts of North America and other regions around the world. Crown vetch is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of habitats, from roadsides and disturbed areas to meadows and forest edges.

The plant is easily recognized by its beautiful pink and white flowers that bloom in dense clusters atop long stalks. The flowers appear from late spring to mid-summer and attract a variety of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The foliage of Coronilla emerus consists of pinnate leaves, which are divided into 10-20 leaflets, giving the plant a feathery appearance. The stems of the plant can grow up to 1.5 meters in length and are covered with fine hairs.

One of the most striking features of Coronilla emerus is its ability to form dense mats, which can be several meters wide, making it an excellent ground cover plant. This characteristic has made it a popular choice for erosion control and soil stabilization, particularly on steep slopes or embankments. Its deep-rooted system helps to bind the soil together, preventing erosion caused by wind and rain.

Crown vetch also has some medicinal properties. It contains flavonoids and other compounds that are believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a range of ailments, including respiratory infections, skin irritations, and digestive disorders. However, it is important to note that there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims, and the plant should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment.

While Coronilla emerus is undoubtedly a beautiful and useful plant, it is important to note that it can be invasive in some regions. In areas where it is not native, it can quickly take over and outcompete native plants, reducing biodiversity. As a result, it is crucial to plant it in areas where it will not harm local ecosystems.

Coronilla emerus is a lovely and versatile plant that can be used for a variety of purposes. It is a valuable addition to any garden, and its ability to stabilize soil makes it an excellent choice for erosion control. However, it is important to ensure that it is not planted in regions where it may become invasive and cause harm to the environment.

Coronilla emerus is also used as a forage plant for livestock, particularly in the United States, where it has become naturalized. Its ability to withstand grazing and drought makes it a useful food source for livestock in dryland areas. The plant is also used in horticulture as a decorative ground cover, particularly in areas where traditional turf grasses may not thrive, such as on steep slopes or in dry, rocky soil.

The history of Coronilla emerus is fascinating. The plant's name, "Coronilla," comes from the Latin word "corona," meaning "crown," which refers to the plant's beautiful, crown-like flowers. The species name "emerus" is derived from the Latin word "emeritus," meaning "honorable discharge," as the plant was often used to rehabilitate damaged land after war.

In traditional European medicine, Coronilla emerus was used to treat a range of ailments, including rheumatism, asthma, and gastrointestinal disorders. Its flowers and leaves were believed to have antispasmodic and sedative properties, making it useful for treating nervous conditions.

The plant's uses in traditional medicine have been supported by modern scientific research. Coronilla emerus contains compounds that have been found to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial effects. For example, extracts from the plant have been shown to inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, a common cause of skin infections.

In addition to its medicinal and practical uses, Coronilla emerus also has cultural significance. In some regions of Europe, the plant is associated with May Day celebrations and is used to decorate maypoles. The plant has also been used in traditional folk songs and poetry.

Coronilla emerus is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a variety of uses. While it is important to be mindful of its potential to become invasive in some regions, it is a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes in many areas around the world. Whether used for erosion control, livestock forage, or medicinal purposes, Coronilla emerus is a versatile and beautiful plant that deserves our attention and appreciation.

One interesting fact about Coronilla emerus is that it has been studied for its potential as a biofuel crop. The plant contains high levels of oils and sugars that can be converted into biofuels, such as biodiesel and bioethanol. However, more research is needed to determine the feasibility of using Coronilla emerus as a commercial biofuel crop.

Another fascinating aspect of Coronilla emerus is its symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Like many plants in the Fabaceae family, Coronilla emerus forms nodules on its roots that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a form that can be used by the plant as a source of nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plant growth. This relationship allows Coronilla emerus to grow in nitrogen-poor soils and reduces the need for nitrogen fertilizers.

Finally, it's worth noting that while Coronilla emerus is a beautiful and useful plant, it is not without its drawbacks. In addition to its potential invasiveness, the plant can be toxic to livestock if consumed in large quantities. It contains compounds that can cause photosensitization, a condition that makes the skin sensitive to sunlight and can lead to severe burns and other skin problems in animals.

In conclusion, Coronilla emerus is a fascinating plant with a variety of uses and interesting characteristics. From its beautiful flowers to its ability to stabilize soil and fix nitrogen, it has much to offer gardeners, farmers, and scientists alike. However, it is important to be mindful of its potential invasiveness and toxicity, and to use it responsibly in appropriate settings.