Birdsfoot trefoil

Lotus corniculatus L. Fabaceae (Legume family)

Life cycle

Mat-forming perennial.

birdsfoot trefoil plant
Birdsfoot trefoil plant.


Alternate, compound with five generally oval and smooth-margined leaflets. Each compound leaf has three terminal leaflets and two reduced leaflets near the stem.

birdsfoot trefoil leaf
Birdsfoot trefoil leaf.


Prostrate and spreading to semierect stems are herbaceous, branched from a tough crown and up to 3 feet long. Plants form mats by stolons and rhizomes.

Flowers and fruit

Bright yellow, pealike flowers, sometimes streaked with red, are found in flat-topped clusters at the ends of long stalks. Fruit are several linear, cylinder-shaped pods formed in the shape of a bird’s foot. Each capsule contains several roundish, shiny, olive to black seeds.

birdsfoot trefoil flowers
Birdsfoot trefoil flowers.


Seeds, stolons and rhizomes.

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