the tough little subshrub that could


shrubby deer vetch
Ottleya rigida

  • 1.5' high, spreading 2'

  • subshrub, groundcover

  • moderate water (terrace zone)


  • HARDY TO 0º F

  • important species for native bees (nectar). Larval host for the acmon blue, funereal duskywing butterflies.

Shrubby deervetch (Ottleya rigida, formally Lotus rigidus) is found in the wild on sandy, gravelly, or clayey soils often along washes and on rocky hillsides below 5,500 ft in elevation. This xeric little groundcover is tough and also pretty. February into summer it sends up yellow and orange pea-shaped flowers which are of special value to native bees. It spread to about 2 feet wide eventually, never getting above 1.5 feet tall. 

Give this plant full sun (it can take reflected heat), and moderate to low water with good drainage. This plant can withstand drought but may drop some leaves in response. Shrubby deervetch can take temperatures as low as 0º F. If plants are ever looking ragged, they take well to pruning. 

This species is also a larval host to the acmon blue (Plebejus acmon), funereal duskywing (Erynnis funeralis) butterflies. 

Katherine Gierlach