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Small Restharrow

Ononis reclinata

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.
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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, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, 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
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Beaches, grassland, rocky places, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside.

Pink, 5 petals
Pink flowers, 5 to 10mm in size.
Pea-like pods that hang downwards when they ripen. Fruits are 8 to 14mm long.
A stickily hairy annual flower with tiny trefoil leaves. The leaflets are oval, measuring up to 8mm long. Leaflets are toothed at the ends.
Other Names:
Reclined Restharrow.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ononis reclinata, also known as reclined restharrow, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. It is typically found in dry, rocky or sandy habitats. It is also known for its medicinal properties, the root and aerial parts of the plant are traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments such as urinary tract disorders, kidney stones, and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been used as a diuretic and as a pain reliever. The plant is also known for its reclining habit, leaves and stem will trail along the ground.


Small Restharrow, also known as Ononis reclinata, is a small perennial plant that belongs to the Fabaceae family. It is a native plant of Europe and is commonly found in the Mediterranean region, as well as in parts of Asia and Africa. This plant is known for its many medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.


Small Restharrow is a low-growing plant, typically reaching a height of around 20-30 cm. It has a woody stem and branches that spread outwards, giving the plant a sprawling appearance. The leaves are small and narrow, with a dark green color and a slightly hairy texture. The flowers of the Small Restharrow are pink or purple in color and are shaped like a pea flower, with a characteristic keel that gives them a distinctive appearance.

Medicinal Uses

Small Restharrow has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, particularly in Mediterranean countries. The plant contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, tannins, and saponins, which are responsible for its medicinal properties. Some of the most notable medicinal uses of Small Restharrow include:

  1. Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic: Small Restharrow has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which make it effective in relieving pain and reducing inflammation in the body. It is often used to treat conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism.

  2. Diuretic: Small Restharrow is a natural diuretic, which means that it helps to increase urine production and eliminate excess water and toxins from the body. This makes it an effective remedy for conditions such as edema and high blood pressure.

  3. Anti-microbial: Small Restharrow has been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, which make it effective in treating a variety of infections, including urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and skin infections.

  4. Digestive Aid: Small Restharrow has been traditionally used as a digestive aid, particularly in treating conditions such as indigestion and constipation. It is believed to help improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the digestive system.

  5. Respiratory Conditions: Small Restharrow is often used to treat respiratory conditions such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract and improve breathing.


While Small Restharrow is generally safe to use, there are some precautions to keep in mind. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid using Small Restharrow, as it may have an effect on hormone levels. It is also important to note that Small Restharrow may interact with certain medications, particularly diuretics and blood thinners, so it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using Small Restharrow.

Small Restharrow is a small but powerful plant with a variety of medicinal uses. Its anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and anti-microbial properties make it effective in treating a variety of conditions, particularly those related to the respiratory and digestive systems. While precautions should be taken when using Small Restharrow, it is generally considered safe and can be a valuable addition to any natural medicine cabinet.

Culinary Uses

In addition to its medicinal uses, Small Restharrow has also been used in culinary applications in the Mediterranean region. The young shoots and leaves of the plant are edible and have a slightly bitter, nutty flavor. They can be eaten raw in salads or cooked and used as a vegetable. The seeds of the Small Restharrow plant can also be ground into a flour and used as a substitute for wheat flour.


Small Restharrow is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils and conditions. It prefers well-drained, sandy soils and full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade. The plant is often found growing wild in meadows and along roadsides in the Mediterranean region.

Small Restharrow can be propagated from seeds or cuttings. Seeds should be sown in the spring or fall, and cuttings can be taken in the summer. The plant can be grown in a container or directly in the ground, and requires minimal maintenance once established.

Conservation Status

Small Restharrow is considered a common plant and is not currently listed as endangered. However, like many wild plants, its habitat is under threat due to factors such as urbanization, agricultural practices, and climate change. It is important to protect and conserve the natural habitats of plants like Small Restharrow to ensure their survival for future generations.

Small Restharrow is a small but powerful plant with a variety of medicinal and culinary uses. Its many benefits have been recognized for centuries in traditional medicine, and it continues to be used today as a natural remedy for a variety of conditions. While precautions should be taken when using Small Restharrow, it is generally considered safe and can be a valuable addition to any natural medicine cabinet. With its hardiness and adaptability, Small Restharrow is a plant that can be grown and enjoyed by anyone with an interest in natural remedies and cooking.

Folklore and Symbolism

Small Restharrow has been used in folklore and symbolism in various cultures throughout history. In ancient Greece, the plant was believed to have the power to protect against the evil eye and was often hung above doorways or carried as an amulet. In European folklore, it was believed that carrying a piece of the root would protect against lightning strikes and witchcraft.

Small Restharrow is also associated with the constellation Cassiopeia in Greek mythology. In the myth, Cassiopeia, the queen of Ethiopia, boasted that she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs. This angered the sea god Poseidon, who sent a sea monster to destroy Ethiopia. Cassiopeia's daughter, Andromeda, was sacrificed to the sea monster, but was rescued by the hero Perseus. In the constellation, Cassiopeia is depicted as sitting on a throne, holding a branch of Small Restharrow in one hand.

In Christian tradition, Small Restharrow is associated with the Passion of Christ. It is said that the plant received its name from the Latin word "restis," which means "rope," because the branches of the plant were used to make the ropes that were used to tie Jesus to the cross. The pink or purple flowers of the plant were said to symbolize the blood of Christ.

In modern times, Small Restharrow continues to be used in symbolic ways. In the language of flowers, Small Restharrow is associated with healing and protection, and is often given as a gift to someone who is ill or in need of protection.


Small Restharrow, with its many medicinal and culinary uses, as well as its rich folklore and symbolism, is a fascinating and valuable plant. Its hardiness and adaptability make it a plant that can be grown and enjoyed by anyone, while its many benefits make it a valuable addition to any natural medicine cabinet or kitchen. As with all natural remedies, it is important to use Small Restharrow with caution and consult with a healthcare provider before use. But for those who appreciate the power and beauty of nature, Small Restharrow is a plant that is well worth exploring.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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