The common name of this familiar plant is a useful guide to its identification. Birdsfoot refers to the radiating seed pods that are said to look like bird’s feet whilst trefoil describes the leaf which is divided into three leaflets. Its other name of Eggs and Bacon is also descriptive as the mature flower is usually the colour of egg yolk whilst the bud is often red. Birdsfoot trefoil can be distinguished from the other common Lotus, Greater birdsfoot trefoil, in having a smaller stature, lighter green foliage and a solid stem.
Birdsfoot trefoil may be the commonest legume of unproductive grasslands in the British Isles and is probably the most ecologically wide-ranging, being absent only from damp sites and very acid or very infertile soils. It is, however, intolerant of high nitrogen levels and is easily lost when grasslands are ‘improved‘. Birdsfoot trefoil is a long lived perennial and is suitable for both meadows and, because of its tolerance of cutting or grazing, flowery lawns. It is mainly pollinated by bees and is the larval food plant for a number of moth species including both six and five spot burnet and of the common blue butterfly.
Establishes relatively easily from seed sown any time of the year. If it is important to have the maximum germination rate in the shortest period of time you could try a light scarification.