Bird’s-foot trefoil

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Lotus corniculatus L.

Common name(s): bird’s-foot trefoil, garden bird’s-foot-trefoil, birdfoot deervetch

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– perennial



-can grow to a height of 2-3 feet

-flowers are arrange in a whorl

-leaves are

  • entire
  • 5 leaflets

– may be confused with Anthyllis vulneraria, but absent in Maine; see left sidebar of Go Botany webpage


-lots of precipitation

-medium acidity


-used for wind and erosion control


-grazing limits growth

-benefits from available phosphorous

-can displace vegetation

-may become weedy or invasive



Bush, Tony. “BIRDSFOOT TREFOILLotus Corniculatus L.” Plant Fact Sheet, USDA NRCS Rose Lake Plant Materials Center, East Lansing, Michigan , Feb. 2002,