Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil

A favourite source of nectar for many insects.
A favourite source of nectar for many insects.

 

Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).

This prostrate, solid-stemmed, short perennial of between 10-40cm in height is omnipresent on Bepton Down.  It enjoys calcareous grasslands, shingle, cliffs, and other similar habitats.  It produces red buds which turn yellow on opening and are 15mm long.  The flowering period can start as early as May and it will produce flowers continuously until September.  It derives its name from both the fruits it bears and its foliage.  The seeds are carried in slender pods which are splayed out like a bird’s foot when ripe.  It has five leaflets but because the lower pair are at the base of the stalk it seems to be trifoliate (trefoil).