Page author: David Giblin
Lotus corniculatus
bird's-foot trefoil, garden bird's-foot trefoil

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; widely distributed throughout most of North America.

Habitat: Open, mesic to wet areas, typically where disturbed.

Flowers: May-September

Origin: Introduced

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bumblebees, bees, butterflies


Herbaceous perennial, the numerous stems prostrate to ascending, usually trailing and often rooting at the nodes, with or without soft hairs; stipules gland-like.


Leaves alternate, pinnate with 5 leaflets, the lower pair at the point of attachment to the stem, all short-petiolate and equal in size and shape, elliptic or obovate, 5-17 mm. long and 2-7 mm. broad, with soft, marginal hairs.


Inflorescence a head-like umbel on axillary peduncles 3-12 cm. long, with a trifoliate bract below the umbel; flowers pea-like, yellow tinged with red, 8-15 mm. long; calyx 5-8 mm. long, tubular, the 5 linear teeth equal to the tube; stamens 10, the filaments attached in 2 groups.


Pod flattened, 20-40 mm. long and 2-3 mm. wide.

Accepted Name:
Lotus corniculatus L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 2: 775-776. 1753. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Lotus corniculatus L. var. arvensis (Pers.) Ser.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Lotus corniculatus in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Lotus corniculatus checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Lotus corniculatus information.

E-Flora BC: Lotus corniculatus atlas page.

CalPhotos: Lotus corniculatus photos.

USDA Plants: Lotus corniculatus information.

35 photographs:
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