GREATER BIRD'S-FOOT-TREFOIL

LARGE BIRD'S-FOOT-TREFOIL

Lotus pedunculatus

Pea Family [Fabaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8orange
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8hollow

14th July 2014, Ainsdale Hills, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A perennial (un-like Hairy Bird's-foot-Trefoil and Slender Bird's-foot-Trefoil which are annuals) which grows highest of all Bird's-foot-Trefoils to 1m.


14th July 2014, Ainsdale Hills, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers in bunches of between 5-12, being higher than all other Bird's-foot-Trefoils (although there is overlap at the lower end with several other species).


8th July 2014, Boating Lake, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Erect to ascending stems (rather than ascending to procumbent as with other species). Leaves in fives.


8th July 2014, Boating Lake, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Up to 12 flowers in a bunch.


8th July 2014, Boating Lake, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers always deep yellow with faint orange-red stripes on the banner, a darker yellow than other species, never sometimes orange or red as with Common Bird's-foot Trefoil).


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Country Park, Waterloo, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Banner with several orange-red stripes.


8th July 2014, Boating Lake, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Three sepal teeth recurved in bud (the other two straighter but separated by an acute angle (rather than at an obtuse to acute angle).


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Country Park, Waterloo, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Can be hairless (glabrous) to hairy, here hairy.


14th July 2014, Ainsdale Hills, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Some flowers turning to fruit.


14th July 2014, Ainsdale Hills, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Turned to fruit, pods long and slim emerging from much wide sepal tubes. Some pods still have parts of the (withered) flower attached.


14th July 2014, Ainsdale Hills, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Fruit pods between 15 to 35mm long (only slightly longer that those of Common Bird's-foot Trefoil at up to 30mm long). Pods have a long style still attached.


14th July 2014, Ainsdale Hills, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Sepal teeth recurved except for the pair at the top which are separated by an acutely angled notch (sinus).


8th July 2014, Boating Lake, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Leaves possibly slightly wide in shape than those of Common Bird's-foot Trefoil, in threes at the end on a long stalk from the pair at the stem.


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Country Park, Waterloo, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The as-yet un-developed flowers?


Not to be semantically confused with : Bird's-foot Clover (aka Fenugreek) (Trifolium ornithopodioids) [a Clover belonging to the same Pea Family] nor to Bird's-Foot (Ornithopus perpusillus) nor Orange Bird's-foot (Ornithopus pinnatus) [Bird's-foot's belonging to the same Pea Family]. Nor to Hare's-Foot Clover (aka Hare's-foot Trefoil)(Trifolium arvense) nor with the true Trefoils (Trifoilium such as Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre), Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium) or Slender Trefoil (Trifolium micranthum) - [all plants with similar names and belonging to the same Pea Family (Fabaceae) but in differing genera]

Easily mistaken for other Bird's-foot-Trefoils such as :

  • Common Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) but that has slightly shorter pods 15-30mm (rather than up to 35mm of Greater B-f-T), has fewer flowers (1-2 to 7 (rather than 5-7 of Greater B-f-T) and is also ubiquitous.
  • Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot-Trefoil (Lotus tenuis) usually only 2-4 flowers (but can have 1 to 6) with linear to linear-lanceolate leaves (rather than ovate to obovate of Greater B-f-T) and found mainly in the SW of England.
  • Hairy Bird's-foot-Trefoil (Lotus subbiflorus) is always hairy, is an annual (rather than perennial) and is quite rare (RR).
  • Slender Bird's-foot-Trefoil (Lotus angustissimus) is always hairy, is an annual, but is very rare (RRR) found only in the far South of England.

Distinctive features of Greater Bird's-foot-Trefoil over all others is that: It has hollow stems (only rarely hollow in Common B-f-T and Narrow-leaved B-f-T), it has 5-12 flowers (all others less than 7), it has three sepal teeth that are re-curved in bud, the other two with an acute-angled notch between them, fruit pods 15-35mm long (a max of 30mm in all others).

No relation to : Bird's-foot Sedge (Carex ornithopoda) [a sedge with similar name].

Slightly larger than the next largest, being Common Bird's-foot Trefoil Greater Bird's-foot-Trefoil is an erect native perennial growing to 1m in damp places such as marshes, side of ponds, and damp grassland and woodland rides. It is ubiquitous found almost throughout the British Isles except the highest ground in Scotland.

The 'trefoil' part of the name derives from the terminal triplet of leaves. The 'bird's-foot' from the shape and form of the seed-pods (although the Author wonders about those birds with up to 12 toes...).

Bird's-foot Trefoils, like many other plants belonging to the Pea Family, contain poisonous Cyanogenic Glycosides.


  Lotus pedunculatus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
 family8Pea family8Fabaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Lotus
Lotus
(Bird's-foot-Trefoils)

GREATER BIRD'S-FOOT-TREFOIL

LARGE BIRD'S-FOOT-TREFOIL

Lotus pedunculatus

Pea Family [Fabaceae]