Birdsfoot trefoil

Lotus corniculatus L.

Life cycle

Mat-forming perennial.


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


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

Birdsfoot trefoil plant
Birdsfoot trefoil plant.

Flowers and fruit

Bright yellow, pea-like 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 continued

Birdsfoot trefoil leaf
Birdsfoot trefoil leaf.


Seeds, stolons and rhizomes.

Birdsfoot trefoil flower
Birdsfoot trefoil flowers

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