Size: Up to 8 inches ( cm) more or less, a short low-growing herb.
Growth Form: Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil is a forb/herb that is soft and fleshy, the slender stems grow along the ground and then become erect.
Leaves: Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil has soft and fleshy green leaves which line the slender stems in pairs of leaflets of various shapes.
Flower Color: Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil has yellow flowers, the flowering stalks are tipped with 1 to 4 flowers; the fruit is a pod with a hooked beak.
Flowering Season: February to May.
Elevation: 3,000 feet (913 m) or lower, California below 6,000 feet (1,829 m).
Habitat Preferences: Desert areas, mid-level -scrub communities and -woodlands, mountains, mesas, California habitat preferences include coastal scrub, foothill woodlands, washes and deserts. Contrary to its common name, Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil, it does not necessary live near coastal areas.
Recorded Range:Lotus salsuginosus is relatively rare in the United States where it is native to the west ½ or AZ, southeast CA and extreme southeast NV. It is also native to Baja California and northern Mexico.
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 and 1 variety in Lotus salsuginosus:
Lotus salsuginosus ssp. brevivexillus, Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil (AZ, CA, NV);
Lotus salsuginosus var. salsuginosus, Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil (CA only).
Comments: Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil, contrary to its common name does not necessary live near coastal areas. It may be easy to identify with is its often glabrous relatively fleshy thin flat leaflets. The plants and flowers of sub-species "brevivexillus" are smaller than the type species Lotus salsuginosus.
It is likely that Lotus salsuginosus evolved under periodic fire events in wildfire-prone habitats such as chaparral, as studies indicate this species has an increased rate of seed germination after exposure to heat.
Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil, Lotus salsuginosus 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
Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil, Lotus salsuginosus 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.
The genus “Lotus” (Lo'tus:); Greek origin, name applied to the taste of the Jujube fruit (Ziziphus jujuba); thought to induce contentment and forgetfulness.