This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Stem procumbent, then ascending, 3-8 inches high, slender, covered like the leaves with an adpressed down. Leaves pinnate, with 8-12 pairs of lanceolate or oval leaflets. Spike compact, corymbose; flowers shortly stalked. Standard blue. Wings white. Keel violet at apex, nearly as long as standard. Legume pendent, elongated, covered with rough, black hairs. Fruit-stalk longer than calyx.
Stony or grassy places and pastures in the Alps, especially on the primary formations, 5000-8200 feet. July, August.
Alps and Pyrenees. High mountains of Europe as far north as Lapland. In Norway it extends above the birch. Very rare in Britain.
Glabrous, bright green in colour, with strong zigzag stems, spreading several feet along the ground. Stipules free. Leaflets about a dozen, ovate, 1-1 1/2 inches long, on a common leaf-stalk 6 or 7 inches long. Flowers dingy yellow, in racemes rather shorter than the leaves. Pods erect, curved, glabrous, 1 1/2 inches long, divided into 2 cells by a thin double partition.
Open woods, grassy and uncultivated places. June to August.
Europe, especially Central; Western Asia. British. A frequent plant in sub-alpine regions of Switzerland.
Differs from the last in its more erect habit, and in having pale yellow flowers, narrower oblong leaflets, and a hispid, globular pod, which turns black when ripe. Grassy and bushy places in the hills; local. June, July.
Western Alps, Pyrenees, Ardennes, Central and Southern Europe, rare in Switzerland; Western Asia.
A small, hairy, diffuse plant. Leaflets oblong, 8-12 pairs. Flowers violet, erect, 10-20 in a dense, sub-globular head. Peduncles longer than the leaves. Calyx hairy, tubular, with short, linear teeth. Standard oval, emarginate. Pods 10 mm. by 4, erect, oval, heart-shaped at base, with long, white hairs, divided longitudinally into 2 cells.
Dry Alpine pastures. June to August.
Central and Western Alps (not in Switzerland), Northern Europe, and Russian Asia. British.
Likes a well-drained soil, plenty of lime, and a sunny aspect.
Stem spreading, prostrate or ascending, hairy like the whole plant. Leaflets ovate-lanceolate, in 10-12 pairs. Petals bright purple. Calyx hairy, tubular, with irregular linear teeth, standard oblong, emarginate. Pods 10 or 12 mm. by 5 mm., erect, oval, heart-shaped at base, hairy.
Limestone hills, 3500-6500 feet. May to July.
Southern and Western Alps, Piedmont, Tyrol, Montenegro.
Very similar to the last, but with 6-12 pairs of leaflets, and covered with whitish hairs. Calyx-teeth lanceolate, about 1/3 length of the tube. Standard linear-oblong, truncate. Pod 10 or 12 mm. by 5 mm., erect, oval, hairy. A handsome plant, well worth cultivating.
Mountains in hot districts up to 5000 feet. June to August.
Western Alps, Southern Europe and Western Asia.
Likes sun and prefers limestone, under which conditions it spreads rapidly, and throws up plenty of long-stalked crimson-purple spikes.