Tiny Flowers | Bird’s-Foot Trefoil

The previous two posts featured yellow flowers. Here is one more. It is another member of the bean, legume, pea family (Fabaceae). Bird’s-Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is found throughout Canada and the U.S. except for Nevada, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and S. Carolina. It is also found throughout Britain, mainland Europe, Asia, north and east Africa, and in mountainous parts of the tropics. According to the United States Dept. of Agriculture site, it is not native here. They have clusters of flowers on low growing plants. Each individual flower is quite small. Remember, I was hunting for 1/4″ or less.

Note the visiting fly on my finger for a sense of scale.

According to the Wildscreen ARKive site, this plant can go by as many as 70 other names such 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.

The name can be derived from the leaves in this image from the Illinois Wildflowers site, our next door neighbor. Note the three leaves and their birdfoot shape.


12 thoughts on “Tiny Flowers | Bird’s-Foot Trefoil

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      I didn’t look into the list of 70 or so claimed by Grigson in The Englishman’s Flora. There must be some obscure ones in that list.

      I like bacon and eggs, too.

  1. shoreacres

    I’d go with butter and eggs for a name — if the eggs were scrambled. They are pretty little flowers. I don’t remember seeing these, but of course the small ones often are overlooked.

    It surely does look to me like your header photo is taken from the Illinois side of the Mississippi, near or at The Palisades. Great photo! When I was there, it was smoky and hazy, with relatively low water. But it still was great.

    1. Melanie in IA

      Jim took that photo 3 weeks ago. It’s from the Iowa side at Effigy Mounds, north of Marquette, IA. The water is high and even higher now.

      I’m working on a blog post with more of his photos from that trip. Should be up in a few days.

  2. Sheryl

    My father used to say that birds foot trefoil made the best hay for cattle (though I can’t remember him or anyone else actually raising it). But every time I see a birds good trefoil plant I tell my family this story–(and I think they roll their eyes).


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