Information on Sainfoin

Common Name: Sainfoin
Scientific Name: Onobrychis viciifolia
Irish Name: Coirm Coiligh
Family Group: Fabaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Sainfoin is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

A relatively recent arrival to our shores, Sainfoin grows to 60cm tall. It bears long-stalked slender, erect spikes of 10-14mm long pink peaflowers. The standard (upper petal) is pink with deep maroon veins, the wings and keel (lower petals) are tinged violet towards their tips. The calyx teeth are long and pointed. The leaves are pinnate, having 6-12 pairs oblong, untoothed leaflets. Its preferred habitat is dry grassland. It is an uncommon introduced perennial which belongs to the Pea family.

I found and photographed this lovely plant growing on a new road in Ballymun, Co Dublin in 2012. Perhaps it was introduced with a grass seed mix.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Until the 19th century, Sainfoin was grown for fodder.