birdsfoot trefoil

Fabales > Fabaceae > Lotus corniculatus L.
Synonym(s): birdfoot deervetch

Birdsfoot trefoil is a low-growing, perennial forb with stems that can reach 2 ft. (0.6 m) long. Leaves are compound (with 5 oval to linear leaflets), stipulate and alternate. Leaflets (upper 3) are 0.5 in. (1.3 cm) long and less than 1/8 in. (0.3 cm) wide; the lower two resemble leaf-like stipules. Flowering occurs from May to August, when yellow, sweet pea-like flowers develop. Flowers develop in clusters of 2-8 on a long peduncle (stalk). Fruits are pods that occur in head-like clusters. Each pod is brown to black, cylindrical, 0.6-1.4 in. (1.5-3.5 cm) long, contains up to 49 seeds and has a persistent style at the apex. Birdsfoot trefoil is native to Eurasia and North Africa and occurs in pastures, roadsides, wetlands, disturbed grasslands and riparian areas.


Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

  • Weeds of the Week - USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, Forest Health Protection

Selected Images from Invasive.org

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Flower(s);
Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); Martin County, KY
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); Birdsfoot trefoil contains tannin, a natural antibloating compound.
USDA ARS Photo Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
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Seed(s);
Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Seed(s);
Ken Chamberlain, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Ohio State Weed Lab Archive, Ohio State University, Bugwood.org
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Diagram or Graphic; USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
USDA PLANTS Database, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Diagram or Graphic; Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 2: 359.
USDA PLANTS Database, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Invasive Reference(s):

Check Invasive.org for most current lists.
  • Virginia - Invasive Alien Plant Species
  • Mid-Atlantic - EPPC List
  • Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species
  • Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest


External Links


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USDA Forest Service Bugwood University of Georgia