Growth Form: Bird's Foot Trefoil is a forb/herb; sprawling horizontally without rooting and becoming erect, stems slender may reach 24 inches (60 cm ), older plants becoming bushy; plants typically without surface hairs (glabrous).
North America species range map for Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus:
Click image for full size map.
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown
U.S. Wetland Indicator: In North America Lotus corniculatus, Bird's Foot Trefoil i has the following wetland designations:
Arid West, FAC
Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FACU;
Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FACU;
Great Plains, FACU;
Northcentral & Northeast, FACU;
Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FAC;
FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
U.S. Weed Information: In North America Lotus corniculatus, Bird's Foot Trefoil is listed in 46 states; and can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources:
Weeds of the Northeast,
Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains,
Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.
U.S. Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: In North America Lotus corniculatus, Bird's Foot Trefoil is listed as a Noxious Weed by:
Alaska Exotic Plant Information Clearinghouse
City of Ann Arbor Michigan Parks and Recreation
Wisconsin Dept. Natural Resources (1997)
National Park Service Lands 2000-2007
The Nature Conservancy (1995)
Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council
Native Plant Society of Oregon (2008)
West Virginia Native Plant Society (1999)
International Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: according to Invasive.org.;
Lotus corniculatus is native to Eurasia and North Africa and occurs in pastures, roadsides, wetlands, disturbed grasslands and riparian areas.
Genus Information: In North America, USDA Plants Database lists 142 species for Lotus. Worldwide, World Flora Online includes 605 accepted species names for the genus.
The genus Lotus is under current taxonomic review and many species are now classified under the genus Acmispon.
The genus Lotus was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 15 species of Lotus, California has 35 species, Nevada has 12 species, New Mexico has 5 species, Texas has 4 species and Utah has 8 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.
There is 1 sub-species in Lotus corniculatus;
Lotus corniculatus ssp. frondosus;
There are 3 varieties in Lotus corniculatus, 1 variety in the range recorded above;
Lotus corniculatus var. carnosus;
Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus; (see range recorded above);
Lotus corniculatus var. hirsutus;
Comments: Photos above taken March 25, north of Superior, AZ, in the Tonto National Forest, Maricopa County.
Although listed as an introduced species, Lotus corniculatus is cultivated in North America under the name Birdfoot Deervetch. Lotus corniculatus has acquired several common names some of which are also used for other Lotus species.
Lotus corniculatus has attractive flowers, the flowers and their seeds may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar or food.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Lotus corniculatus has attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, Native Bees and other insects in search of food and nectar.
Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, is known to attract Bumblebees, genus Bombus, family Apidae. Bumblebees are important pollinators in North America. Find out more here from the Xerces Society for Invertabrate Conservation.
Find out more here from Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA).
Sandhill Skipper, Polites sabuleti
The genus “Lotus” (Lo'tus:); Greek origin, name applied to the taste of the Jujube fruit (Ziziphus jujuba); thought to induce contentment and forgetfulness.
The genus was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).
The species epithet “corniculatus” (cornicula'tus:) means horned.
Ethnobotany - Native American Ethnobotany; University of Michigan - Dearborn