Spiny Restharrow - Ononis spinosa


    Short to tall subshrub with stiffly-spiny erect stems, not rooting below and with two lines of hairs. Leaves mostly trifoliate, linear to oval not notched. Flowers pink or reddish purple pea like, 15 to 20 mm in lax racemes. Fruit pod hairy, oval with central line, splitting.

    Similar Species

    Ononis repens

    Identification difficulty
    ID guidance

    The stems are mainly hairy in one row, or two opposite rows. Leaflets  >3 times as long as wide, usually acute or subacute.  It can be spineless.

    Recording advice

    General photo of plant in its habitat, plus details of stem


    Rough grassy habitats, commons, banks and roadside verges, sometimes near the coast.

    When to see it

    April to September

    Life History


    UK Status

    Fairly frequent in much of England, but scarcer in Scotland and Wales.

    VC55 Status

    Once fairly frequent but possibly declining in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 95 of the 617 tetrads.

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map