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Birdsfoot trefoil - Lotus corniculatus
Family - Leguminosae
Also known as - Bacon and Eggs, Tom Thumb

A perennial member of the bean (Legume) family native and widespread in Europe (except the extreme North), Asia, North Africa, introduced to North America and Canada.  Found in open grasslands, lawns, fields, roadsides & riverbanks.  Grows to 45cm (1.5ft) high from a rigid ribbed stem, sometimes grown as fodder as it is very nutritious and does not cause cattle bloat as other legume varieties do.

Occasionally called "bacon and eggs" from it's variegated colouration as the flowers are opening, the flowers become more a uniform yellow once fully open.  Flowers early April to September.  Sessile leaves with five leaflets 4-18mm (0.15-0.8in) long, linear to oval shaped.  Yellow flowers in groups of 3-6 at the end of the stem, blooms in it's second and successive years having only formed a leafy clump in the first year.  Extremely hardy it will flower even if mown, forming a dense prostrate clump.  The plant has a deep, branched root system and tolerates both wet and reasonably dry conditions.  It's common name derives from the shape of its black seedpod 1.5-3cm (0.6-1.2in) long, which when mature looks like the claw foot of a bird.

Birdsfoot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus, click for a larger image Birdsfoot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus, click for a larger image Birdsfoot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus with Red Tailed bumblebee, click for a larger image
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Photos ©2011

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