Plant A Day – Bird’s-foot Trefoil

Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus

Bird’s-foot Trefoil
Lotus corniculatus

Bird’s-foot Trefoil is one of those plants that is planted on purpose, but then escapes and becomes a bit of a nuisance.  It is planted in cattle pastures to add a nice legume to the pasture mix.  It grows better in poor soils than alfalfa and doesn’t cause bloat, whatever that is.

It’s a pretty flower, especially up close.  It blooms from spring to fall.  A lot of people like it and in northeast Indiana it seems to be confined to poorer soil, i.e. roadsides.  I don’t see many native species along roadsides, so it isn’t really competing with our natives, just other foreigners.

Bird's-foot Trefoil can grow in extremely rocky places.

Bird’s-foot Trefoil can grow in extremely rocky places.

In northeast Indiana, they're extremely common along roadsides.

In northeast Indiana, they’re extremely common along roadsides.

Note that the leaf has 5 leaflets, with two of them at the base of the leaf stem.

Note that the leaf has 5 leaflets, with two of them at the base of the leaf stem.

Another leaf/leaflet view.

Another leaf/leaflet view.

Seed pods

Seed pods

The flowerheads are arranged in this peculiar half-circle.

The flowerheads are arranged in a peculiar half-circle.

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