bird’s-foot trefoil

(Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Weed Status

Bird’s-foot trefoil is listed as an invasive terrestrial plant by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. However, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture does not regulate it as a noxious weed, in order to “continue to allow its use in agronomic grazing systems.”

Wetland Indicator Status

Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

bird’s-foot trefoil

Bird’s-foot trefoil is an exotic perennial forb rising from a taproot.

The stems either curve upwards from the base or lay flat, growing along the surface of the ground with their tips turned upwards. They are branched, hairless or sparsely hairy and up to 1½ long. They occasionally root at the nodes.

The leaves are alternate, clover-like, and mostly stalkless. They are divided into 5 equally sized and shaped, ¼ to ¾ long leaflets. The leaflets are untoothed, stalkless, and somewhat hairy. The two lower leaflets are separated from the upper 3 crowded leaflets, appearing at the point where the leaf stalk joins the stem.

The inflorescence is a rounded, head-like cluster of flowers arising from more or less a single point. The flowers are stalked, with all of the stalks about the same length, forming a convex cluster (umbel). The clusters have 4 to 8 flowers each and rise from the upper leaf axils.

The individual flowers are to ½ long and bright yellow, tinged increasingly with red as they age, eventually becoming orange marked with brick red. It has 5 petals organized into the banner, wings, and keel that are typical of plants in the Pea family. The sepals are green and are united into a bell-shaped or cone-shaped tube. Their tips are elongated into teeth equal to half the length of the sepal.

The fruit is a smooth, flattened, slender seed pod, ¾ to 1½ long, held horizontally from the flower stalk.



6 to 24


Flower Color

Bright yellow, becoming orange marked with brick red


Similar Species

The 5-parted leaf and the head-like umbel of bright flowers distinguish this plant from all other members of the Pea family.

American bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus unifoliolatus var. unifoliolatus), has solitary white flowers.


Moist. Meadows, wet low places, roadsides, lawns, and disturbed sites. Full sun.



June to August


Pests and Diseases





Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 22, 24, 28, 29, 30.



Native to northern and eastern Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Introduced and naturalized in North America.






Plantae (green algae and land plants)


Viridiplantae (green plants)


Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)


Embryophyta (land plants)


Tracheophyta (vascular plants)


Spermatophytina (seed plants)


Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)




Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)


Fabaceae (legumes)






Lotus (bird’s-foot trefoils)


Lotus corniculatus (bird’s-foot trefoil)


Subordinate Taxa




Lotus corniculata var. corniculata

Common Names

birdfoot deervetch

bird’s-foot trefoil

Bloomfell cat’s clover

common bird’s-foot trefoil


ground honeysuckle
















The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



A flat-topped or convex umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point, with all of the stalks about the same length.

Visitor Photos

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bird’s-foot trefoil  

bird’s-foot trefoil

Alfredo Colon

bird’s-foot trefoil Photos
bird’s-foot trefoil   bird’s-foot trefoil
Colony   Inflorescence
bird’s-foot trefoil   bird’s-foot trefoil


bird’s-foot trefoil    


bird’s-foot trefoil   bird’s-foot trefoil





Birdsfoot Trefoil
Wez Smith

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).

Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus Corniculatus)
Andree Reno Sanborn

Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus Corniculatus)



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Other Videos

bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus Corniculatus) - 2012-06-25


Published on Jun 27, 2012

Lotus corniculatus is a common flowering plant native to grassland temperate Eurasia and North Africa. The common name is bird’s-foot trefoil (or similar, such as "birdsfoot trefoil"), though the common name is often also applied to other members of the genus. It is also known in cultivation in North America as Birdfoot Deervetch.

De Gewone rolklaver (Lotus corniculatus var. corniculatus) is een algemeen voorkomende, vaste plant uit de vlinderbloemenfamilie (Leguminosae).



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Location: Fairview Twp. (on new trail freshly seeded)

bird’s-foot trefoil
Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

bird’s-foot trefoil Sightings

Afton State Park

Badoura Jack Pine Woodland SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Stone Lake State Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blazing Star Prairie Addition Preserve, South Unit

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Bur Oak WMA

Butterwort Cliffs SNA

Camden State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Rock SNA

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA, Shrike Unit

Flandrau State Park

Foxhome Prairie

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Frontenac State Park

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hastings SNA

Hayes Lake State Park

Hemlock Ravine SNA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Itasca State Park

Jay Cooke State Park

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Bemidji State Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Malmberg Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Myhr Creek Ridge SNA

Myre-Big Island State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Spieker Unit

Oronoco Prairie SNA

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Crookston Prairie Unit

Phelps Lake WMA

Pilot Knob

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Potato Lake SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Racine Prairie SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Rushford Sand Barrens SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Scenic State Park

Sedan Brook Prairie SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods SNA

Springbrook Nature Center

Strandness Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Thorson Prairie WMA

Tiedemann WMA

Tribute WMA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Twin Valley Prairie SNA

Twin Valley WMA: North Unit

Tympanuchus Prairie

Valley View Park

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Vermillion River WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Woodbury WMA

Zimmerman Prairie






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