Schweizer Spitzkiel

Oxytropis helvetica Scheele

Contrary to its name, the Swiss Oxytropis is not found everywhere in Switzerland. If you want to see it and admire its light violet flowers, you will find what you are looking for in the southern valleys of the Valais region. This pretty species is particularly common on the Gornergrat.   The Swiss Oxytropis is a small plant and reaches a maximum height of 10 cm. Its feathered leaves bear silky hairs on both sides. It also has bilaterally symmetrical flowers typical of legumes (Fabaceae). The lowest of the five petals, also known as wings, also forms a small keel. 

Facts and Figures

Oxytropis are wind dispersers, which means they use the wind to distribute their seeds. The fruits of the Swiss Oxytropis therefore inflate slightly when the seeds ripen and when the wind blows over the Gornergrat, they are carried away like small balloons which scatter the seeds.  


The Swiss Oxytropis is common in the Western Alps. In Switzerland, it is only found in the southern Valais valleys where it can be found on dry, nutrient-deficient and calcareous grassland and scree.   more information

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