Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bird's Foot Trefoil

Botanical name: Lotus corniculatus (Fabaceae)
Other name: Birdsfoot trefoil, bloomfell, cat's clover, crowtoes, garden bird's-foot-trefoil, ground honeysuckle

Birdsfoot trefoil is a low-growing, perennial forb with stems that can reach 2 ft. (0.6 m) long. Leaves are compound (with 5 oval to linear leaflets), stipulate and alternate. Leaflets (upper 3) are 0.5 in. (1.3 cm) long and less than 1/8 in. (0.3 cm) wide; the lower two resemble leaf-like stipules. Sweet pea-like flowers develop in clusters of 2-8 on a long peduncle (stalk). Fruits are pods that occur in head-like clusters. Each pod is brown to black, cylindrical, 0.6-1.4 in. (1.5-3.5 cm) long, contains up to 49 seeds and has a persistent style at the apex. Birdsfoot trefoil is native to Eurasia and North Africa and occurs in pastures, roadsides, wetlands, disturbed grasslands and riparian areas.

How to grow
Birdsfoot trefoil grows best when planted in early spring, although you can plant in late summer as well. Note: Birdsfoot trefoil seeds have a tough outer coating and need to be scarified before planting.

Height: Up to 2 feet
Light: Full sun
Soil: thin and poor soil
Sow depth: 1/2 inch
Germination: 2-4 weeks
USDA zone: 3-9
Bloom Time: Early and mid-season