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Yellow Oxytropis

Oxytropis campestris

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, 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 Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Grassland, heathland, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, roadsides, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
The pea-like flowers are yellow, tinged purple. They appear clumped together inside clusters. This plant is almost identical to Purple Oxytropis (Oxytropis halleri) except the flower are yellow and not purple. 10 stamens.
Hairy, pea-like pods.
A tufted perennial with pinnate leaves. There are 8 to 15 pairs of oblong, linear leaflets and a terminal leaflet. Leaflets are tapered at their ends. Just like Purple Oxytropis, tendrils are absent from the leaves.
Other Names:
Field Locoweed, Field Oxytropis, Yellow Milk-vetch.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Oxytropis campestris is a species of flowering plant in the legume family Fabaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia and is commonly known as field locoweed or field oxytropis. The plant has small, pink or purple flowers and can be found in grasslands, meadows, and rocky habitats. Some populations of this plant are toxic to livestock, causing a disease known as locoism. It is considered a rare species in some areas and is protected by law.


Yellow Oxytropis, also known as Oxytropis campestris, is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the family Fabaceae. It is a small, herbaceous plant that grows in dry, rocky areas, and is native to Europe and Asia.

Yellow Oxytropis has a unique appearance with its yellow flowers that bloom in the late spring and early summer. The plant grows to be around 10-20 cm tall and has a stem covered with tiny hairs. Its leaves are greyish-green and are divided into many leaflets. The plant's root system is extensive and can reach deep into the soil to access water and nutrients.

The plant's scientific name, Oxytropis, is derived from the Greek words "oxys" meaning sharp and "tropos" meaning turning. This name refers to the plant's toxic properties and the way it can cause sharp turning movements in animals that consume it.

Despite its toxic properties, Yellow Oxytropis has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. The plant contains a range of alkaloids and other compounds that have been shown to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. Extracts from Yellow Oxytropis have also been used to treat conditions such as diarrhea, jaundice, and kidney stones.

However, it is important to note that Yellow Oxytropis can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. The plant contains several toxic alkaloids, including swainsonine and 1,2-dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause a range of health problems, including liver damage and respiratory failure.

Yellow Oxytropis is also an important plant for ecological reasons. Its extensive root system helps to stabilize soil, preventing erosion in areas with loose, rocky soil. The plant is also an important food source for a range of insects, including bees and butterflies.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the potential of Yellow Oxytropis as a source of new drugs. Researchers are investigating the plant's unique chemistry to identify new compounds with therapeutic potential. However, any potential drug derived from Yellow Oxytropis will need to be carefully tested to ensure that it is safe for human use.

Yellow Oxytropis is also an important plant in traditional Mongolian culture, where it is known as "bayan khundaga" or "khundaga". The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat a range of conditions, including respiratory infections, fever, and liver disease. It is also used as an important ingredient in the traditional Mongolian tea called "suutei tsai".

In addition to its medicinal and ecological importance, Yellow Oxytropis is also valued for its ornamental qualities. The plant's bright yellow flowers make it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. It is also sometimes used in wildflower meadows and other natural landscaping projects.

Despite its widespread use and importance, Yellow Oxytropis is facing a number of threats. The plant is often harvested from the wild for use in traditional medicine, which can lead to overexploitation and depletion of local populations. In addition, habitat loss and fragmentation due to human activities, such as agriculture and development, are also major threats to the plant's survival.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect Yellow Oxytropis and other plant species in its native range. These efforts include the establishment of protected areas, the promotion of sustainable harvesting practices, and the development of alternative sources of medicine.

Yellow Oxytropis is also a source of food for some animals, such as sheep and goats, although they must be careful not to consume too much of the plant due to its toxic properties. The plant's alkaloids can accumulate in the animals' bodies, leading to a range of health problems and even death.

Yellow Oxytropis has also been the subject of research in the field of ethnobotany, which studies the relationships between people and plants. In Mongolia, the plant has cultural significance as a symbol of the steppes and is used in traditional practices such as shamanism.

In addition, Yellow Oxytropis has been used in scientific research to study the effects of plant toxins on animal and human health. The plant's alkaloids, swainsonine and 1,2-dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids, have been shown to have potential therapeutic benefits, but must be used with caution due to their toxic properties.

Yellow Oxytropis is also known to have allelopathic effects, meaning that it can release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants in its vicinity. This can be beneficial in preventing competition for resources in areas with limited soil nutrients.

Yellow Oxytropis is a hardy plant that is able to survive in harsh environments, such as high-altitude areas and desert regions. Its ability to grow in rocky, nutrient-poor soil makes it an important plant for soil conservation and erosion prevention.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Yellow Oxytropis is known as "Baiqian", and has been used to treat a range of conditions, including cough, asthma, and inflammation. The plant's alkaloids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and may be useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Research on Yellow Oxytropis is ongoing, with scientists investigating the plant's chemistry, pharmacology, and ecology. The plant's potential as a source of new drugs and its ecological importance make it an important subject for further study.

In conclusion, Yellow Oxytropis is a fascinating and important plant species with a range of uses and ecological significance. While its toxic properties must be handled with caution, its potential as a source of new drugs, its ecological importance, and its cultural significance make it an important subject of ongoing research and conservation efforts.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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