Common Bird's-foot-trefoil

©Philip Precey

Common Bird's-foot-trefoil

©Lee Schofield

Common Bird's-foot-trefoil

Scientific name: Lotus corniculatus
Common Bird's-foot-trefoil has a vareity of names that conjure up some interesting images: 'Eggs and Bacon', for instance! Its small, yellow, slipper-like flowers can be seen in all kinds of grassy places.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 35cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to September

About

One of the more evocative names for Common Bird's-foot-trefoil is 'Granny's Toenails', which gives an instant, and perhaps not-so-pleasant, impression of the claw-like seed pods of this abundant and sprawling species. Other common names include 'Butter and Eggs', 'Eggs and Bacon', and 'Hen and Chickens', which all refer to the egg-yolk yellow flowers and reddish buds. Widespread and found in all kinds of grassy places, from lawns to downlands, roadside verges to heathlands, Common Bird's-foot-trefoil can be seen flowering from May to September.

How to identify

Common Bird's-foot-trefoil is a member of the pea family. Its yellow flowers look like little slippers and appear in small clusters. They are followed by seed pods that look distinctly like bird's feet or claws, hence the common name. A low-growing plant, its leaves have five leaflets and are downy.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Common Bird's-foot-trefoil is an important foodplant for the caterpillars of the Common Blue, Silver-studded Blue and Wood White butterflies; the latter two species are both classified as Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Its flowers are also a good nectar source for bees.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and coastal habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways these habitats are kept in good condition. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.