Down Garden Services


Common Birdsfoot Trefoil

Scientific Name: Lotus corniculatus
Other name: Bird's-foot Trefoil, Birdfoot Trefoil, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Birdfoot Deervetch (USA)
Family: Leguminosae / Fabaceae

This is a herbaceous perennial which is native to grassland of Europe, Asia and North Africa, but has been accidently introduced to North America, probably in a seed mix. The common names have arisen due to the arangement of the of the seed pods which have the shape of a bird's foot. It is a good forage plant and has the advantage that it does not cause bloat which can occur with other legumes such as Clover or Alfalfa.
The leaves have five leaflets, three in a terminal group and two stalkless or sessile ones where the leaf joins the stem. The plant has weak stems, but can reach up to 50cm in height if supported by surrounding plants or a fence.
The bright yellow to orange flowers occur from June to September and usually have some red guidelines on the upper petal to indicate to pollinators the nectar source - usually bees. The flowers are followed by groups of small purplish, pea-like pods of seeds which radiate outwards to resemble a bird's foot. As a member of the pea Family, the plant can fix atmospheric Nitrogen and can grow in most types of soil, but prefers well-drained conditions.

Not a major weed problem in gardens and can be attractive in wild meadows.

See also Clover and Lesser Trefoil.

Follow these links for further details on Weeds, Weed Removal and Weed Prevention.

image of birdsfoot trefoil