Monday, May 28, 2012

Bird's-foot Trefoil

Like the False Indigo-Bush I posted yesterday, the Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is a member of the legume family (Fabaceae). However, it has a more typical flower, with a flag and keel. I found this plant in the same location as the False Indigo-Bush. Its yellow flowers are tiny; I doubt the flower head was more than 8 inches off the ground. The plant is native to Eurasia and North Africa but became naturalized in North America and is considered invasive in some locations. It is often grown agriculturally as a forage crop since it withstands regular browsing better than clover or alfalfa.

The name comes from the three leaflets at the tip of each compound leaf, which are thought to resemble a bird's foot.