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Common Name: Rest Harrow
Ononis repens is a Perennial up to 0.60 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
Western Europe in Britain, France and Belgium.
Dry grassland on calcareous soils[
Prefers a sunny position in a well-drained neutral to alkaline soil[
]. Succeeds on the tops of walls and on dry banks[
Similar to O. spinosa, but this species is rhizomatous[
]. It can spread rapidly when well sited[
] and has become an obnoxious weed in some areas[
]. Mature roots are very tough and the plant gained its common name of 'Rest Harrow' because ploughs and harrows would be unable to break through it (in the days before heavy machinery was used on the land!).
The whole plant emits a delicious resinous odour when bruised[
A food plant for the common blue butterfly[
Dislikes root disturbance[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Root - raw or cooked. A liquorice substitute[
]. Soaked in cold water it makes a refreshing cold drink[
The young shoots were at one time much used as a vegetable, being boiled, pickled or eaten in salads[
The whole herb has been used in the treatment of bladder stones and to subdue delirium[
Scarify or pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow the seed in the middle of spring in situ[
The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in the autumn. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring[
Division just before new growth begins in spring[
]. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Cuttings, September in a cold frame[