Tuesday 18 June
Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Bird’s-foot-trefoil fact file
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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. Top
- The individual ‘leaf-like’ parts of a compound leaf.
- Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
- National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September, 2003)
- Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and & Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. and Dines, T.D. (2002) New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Grigson, G. (1996) The Englishman’s Flora. Helicon Publishing Ltd., Oxford.
- Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London..
- Stace, C. (1991) New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
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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).Top
Inhabits grasslands, such as meadows, downland, montane rock ledges, and hill pastures. It also occurs on sand dunes and coastal cliff-tops (3).Top
Common and widespread: not threatened (3).Top
This species is not threatened.Top
Conservation action is not required for this very common species.Top
Find out more
For more information on British native plants and for details of how to get involved in plant conservation visit the website of Plantlife, the wild plant charity:
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: email@example.comTop
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