Common Bird's-foot-trefoil - Lotus corniculatus

Alternative names

Variable but usually 10 to 20 cm in height, rather sprawling with a solid stem woody at base. Flowers yellow or orangey, sometimes tinged red. 10 to 16 mm in clusters of 2 to 7. Seed pod 15 to 30 mm straight.

Similar Species

Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) and Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus tenuis)

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Solid stems and obtuse angle between the upper two calyx teeth (i.e more than a right-angle) distinguish it from Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil (which is usually larger, hairier, taller and found in marshy places).  Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot trefoil is uncommon in VC55 and very similar in flower but has leaflets that are mostly >4 times as long as wide; Common Bird's-foot trefoil leaflets are mostly <3 times as long as wide. 


Short grassy habitats, road verges, etc.

When to see it

May to September.

Life History


UK Status

Very common throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Very common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 553 of the 617 tetrads.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map