Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot (or Bird’s-Foot) Trefoil

Family: Fabaceae (Bean, Pea, Legume Family)

Genus: Lotus | Species: corniculatus L.

Description: Birdsfoot trefoil is a moderately long-lived and very widely-distributed herbaceous perennial legume, with its most active growth period occurring in the spring and summer. It has a well developed, branching, tap-like root with side roots located near the soil surface. Typically grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet. The stems are slender, multi-branched, and are moderately leafy.  The leaves are smooth and consist of 5 leaflets. The bloom consists of a showy cluster of bright yellow flowers arranged in a whorl at the end of the stems, and the plants bloom profusely, which makes them popular with pollinators (especially bumble bees). When ripe, the brown seed pods extend outward from the stalk, resembling a bird’s foot (hence, its name). The plant remains green and succulent even after the seeds have ripened. [perennial]

Habitat: Lawns, fields, and roadsides; It is suited to low and moderately fertile soils possessing relatively poor drainage, and its ideal pH range is 5 to 8.  It is intolerant of shade.

In Bloom: Early Spring, but continuing into July

Photos by C. Armstrong