Lotus corniculatus, The Bird’s-foot Trefoil

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus) Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)This is a flower of grassland. It grows in meadows and on heaths in forest rides and if you are very lucky, in your garden.

Bird’s-foot Trefoil is very variable in size. Amongst short grass the small flowers may be just inches off the ground.

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)In long grass it can grow to about twenty inches. It seems to be able to flower at whatever height the surrounding plants are rising to.

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)In many parts of the world Bird’s-foot Trefoil is grown as an animal fodder and I read that it can yield up to four tons of hay per acre. That is difficult to comprehend when you see the tiny flowers growing in short cropped grass.

The name Bird’s-foot comes from the seed pods which are claw like and resemble a Bird’s foot. Another popular name for this plant is Granny’s Toenails.

Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus) Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus)The Trefoil part of the name is a reference to the leaves. Each leaf is actually made up of five leaflets but two of these are at the base of the mid rib and the remaining three form the trefoil at the end of the leaf.

Bird's-foot Trefoil leaves (lotus corniculatus)New buds continually form and grow from the centre of existing leaves, which makes it difficult to study the form and shape of the plant.

Bird's-foot Trefoil leaves (lotus corniculatus)It has a squarish stem.

Bird's-foot Trefoil leaves and stem (lotus corniculatus)It also has a very deep tap root (up to three feet deep) that allows it to thrive on poorer soils.

Bird’s-foot Trefoil is a very important wildlife plant and as such a wonderful addition to any garden. It is especially valuable as a larval food plant for many of our most beautiful Moths and Butterflies including the Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Silver Studded Blue and these Common Blues.

Common Blue on Bird's-foot Trefoil Common Blue on Bird's-foot Trefoil   Common Blue on Bird's-foot Trefoil   Common Blue on Bird's-foot TrefoilAmongst the Moths it is a larval food plant for the Six-spot Burnet and for this next one the Burnet Companion.

Burnet Companion on Bird's-foot Trefoil

Burnet Companion on Bird's-foot TrefoilThe Bird’s-foot Trefoil is a member of the Pea family, known as the Fabaceae and sometimes by the older name of the Leguminosae.

It is native to the UK, Eurasia and North Africa.

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus) Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fabales

Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Lotus

Species: Lotus corniculatus

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)Back to Yellow Wildflowers

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Wild flowers from The Forest of Dean

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