Lotus corniculatus 'Pleniflorus'
Common Name: bird's foot trefoil 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Fabaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to October
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in almost any soil type in full sun. Tolerates occasional drought. Can be mowed, sheared, and/or divided to control its spread and shape. Hardy from Zones 4-9.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lotus corniculatus, commonly called golden bird's-foot or bird's-foot trefoil, is a spreading, herbaceous perennial commonly found growing in the fields, grasslands, and roadsides of its native Eurasia. It has become widespread outside of its native range due to purposeful planting for erosion control and as forage for livestock. It is now considered an exotic invasive weed in parts of the United States, Canada, and Australia. Plants can reach 2-8" high with stems up to 2.5' long. The leaves somewhat resemble those of clover, with three, elliptic leaflets. Flowering umbels emerge from the ends of the stems continually throughout the growing season, with orange flower buds opening to reveal small (0.25-0.75" long), bright yellow, pea-like flowers. The mature seed pods are narrow and linear in shape (up to 1" long) and brown in color.

Genus name comes from the classical Greek name lotos applied to many plants including clover, birds foot trefoil and fenugreek.

The specific epithet corniculatus means "having small horns or spurs".

The common name bird's-foot comes from the similarities in appearance between the clusters of long, narrow seed pods and a bird's foot. The term "trefoil" refers to the three leaflets that make up the compound leaves of this plant.

'Pleniflorus' is a double flowered cultivar that only reaches 3-4" in height. It is still a fast spreader, and will fill a 2' area within a year.


No pest or disease problems. This plant is quite aggressive, and, depending on where you live, may not be suitable to plant in your garden.


A tough ground cover for full sun. This plant tolerates foot traffic and is suitable for a low-mow lawn alternative or as a planting between stepping stones. Does well in rock gardens, containers, and as a border edging. Will spread quickly and aggressively by runners and seed.