Rare native wildflower makes a comeback
Sainfoin is a forgotten crop that is making a comeback through wildflower mixes and publicity such as this blog post from the Soil Association, where it is referred to as Holy Hay.
Onobrychis viciifolia prefers chalk
Onobrychis viciifolia enjoys open ground and chalk so it is at home here on the South Downs. I have no idea whether the flowers I have spotted are native wildflowers, or (in the case of Long Burgh barrow) a self seeded escape, or (for the wildflower meadow just outside Seaford) intentionally sown in a wildflower mix with purple vetches and ox-eye daisy.*
It is quite a large flowered legume, so it’s easy to spot when in flower, and the pink flowers have distinctive red stripes, making it hard to confuse with other species.
Blog posts mentioning Sainfoin – Onobrychis viciifolia are tagged Sainfoin
*Update Jan 2021 – in writing about the vetches, I have come across some gorgeous pollen-rich wildflower mixes for farmers for Countryside Stewardship schemes, which include Sainfoin.