The humble and diminutive bird’s-foot-trefoil goes by a plethora of local names; Geoffrey Grigson, in ‘The Englishman’s Flora’ counted over 70 (4). Many of these names, including bacon and eggs, refer to the delightful colouration of the flowers, which are a rich yolk-yellow, often streaked with bright red (2). Some, such as ‘Dutchman’s clogs’ and ‘lady’s slippers’ hint at the general shape of the flowers, which resemble old fashioned slippers or shoes (5). The long seed-pods, which are reminiscent of claws, are alluded to by yet other names, including ‘granny’s toenails’ and ‘Devil’s fingers’ (5). This familiar member of the pea family (Fabaceae) creeps along the ground; the stems and lance-shaped leaflets are typically smooth (6).
Also known as
bacon and eggs, butter and eggs, Devil’s fingers, Dutchman’s clogs, granny’s toenails, hen and chickens, lady’s fingers, lady’s slipper.
This native plant is common and widespread throughout Britain (2)(3). It is also found throughout most of mainland Europe, and occurs in Asia, north and east Africa, and in mountainous parts of the tropics (2).
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