Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

birdsfoot trefoil

Last Updated on March 9, 2021

Lotus corniculatus is within the pea family and can grow to a great height if not supervised. Let’s discover more about the birdsfoot trefoil seed below.

Overview

  • Scientific Name: Lotus corniculatus
  • Common Name/s: common bird’s-foot trefoil, eggs and bacon, birdsfoot deervetch
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Origin: native
  • Habitat: gardens, roadside verges
  • Flowering Season: June to September

Where Birdsfoot Trefoil Are Found

Also referred to at Lotus corniculatus, these pea-like flowers are common in grassy areas—from garden lawns to downloads to roadside verges. They’re commonly found in Britain and Ireland and all mainland countries. In Slovenia, you can easily spot this plant in meadows and verges.

Seasons

This plant can tolerate both wet and dry soil conditions. In particular, Lotus corniculatus performs best on soil with a pH level between 6.2 and 6.5 making it tolerant of wet acidic soil. Commonly, it flowers in late April or May and the flowering continues until the middle of September.

Trefoil has been introduced to new areas, including North and South America as well as Australia. It can grow from sea level to 3,500m altitude but performs well where there’s rainfall that ranges from 600–1,500mm alongside temperatures above -5 degrees Celsius in winter and 20-30 degrees Celsius during its growing season.

Furthermore, this flower doesn’t have any tolerance of shading—especially during its early stages and it can even be planted on slow-growing grasses.

What Is Birdsfoot Trefoil Used For?

Trefoil Lotus corniculatus has several uses. In small quantities, the trefoil plant can help to improve digestion, and there are even claims that it can be used as a treatment for cancer. Although it’s poisonous to humans, its yellow flowers are an important food plant for creatures. Pollinating insects find it a great source of nectar.

How to Identify These Flowers

These flowers appear in small clusters and look similar to a claw or bird’s foot, hence the name. They grow low in the ground, has five leaflets, and is finely stemmed.

Moreover, trefoil typically grows 10–16mm in height and features tightly packed heads of up to seven. Each flower contains five petals, although, you’ll only typically see all of the petals if you observe it closely.

The Lotus corniculatus birdsfoot is sometimes called ‘eggs and bacon’ due to its red and yellow colour when the flower blossoms. Once completely open, the flowers appear a uniformed yellow while sometimes keeping some patches of orange and red for a stunning appearance.

Each pod holds numerous seeds, and as the seeds dry, the pods twist and split to release more seeds that are then distributed and planted throughout your garden or amongst the wildlife.

Is It Invasive?

Trefoil was originally found in parts of Europe therefore is not invasive in the British countryside. However, it is considered an invasive species in North America as it often prevents native flora from growing.

Is It Poisonous?

Lotus corniculatus contains cyanogenic glycosides, which makes it poisonous to humans.

How Do You Grow Birdsfoot Trefoil?

Sow the seed pods in spring or autumn in seed trays, then cover lightly with compost. It’s one of the easiest plants to germinate, and given the right conditions, it can appear to grow within a few days.

Birdsfoot trefoil is a small yet interesting plant. Do you know other interesting facts about it? Share them with us in the comments.

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