Weeds: Birdfoot Trefoil – Lotus corniculatus

categories: A-B Weeds

revision date: 2024-06-21 04:29

  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant type: Broadleaf
Birdfoot Trefoil flowers.
Birdfoot Trefoil flowers
Photo by: Albert Herring CC 2.0


Lotus corniculatus can be identified by its unique shaped leaves that alternate on the main stem, are trifoliate (3 terminal leaflets at the apex), and have two smaller wing-like leaves at the base of the leaves. The leaves are a distinct bluish-green color. The shape of the leaves can be oval or oblong with a point at the apex. The main stem is flat (partially square) shaped on the top and slightly rounded at the base. The stem can be partially hairy or smooth. Large bright yellow flowers in clover-like clusters form in late June through the fall. Fruit develops resembling pea pods arranged in the shape of a bird’s foot.


Birdsfoot trefoil, a native to Europe and Asia, is a low-growing perennial broadleaf weed that is often found in low fertility soils. It is drought and salt tolerant. It germinates from seed mainly in the spring and quickly spreads into large colonies by developing stolons and rhizomes during the fall.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Physical control, by hand-pulling or hoeing when populations are small, removing as much below-ground tissue as possible to prevent regrowth.
  • Maintain a healthy lawn with proper mowing heights, irrigation, and fertilization with nitrogen.
  • Adequate watering to prevent drying in drought conditions.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • Read the labels carefully for safety and to make sure the product is suitable for your situation.

Landscape areas

  • 2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba

Turf areas

  • 2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba
  • triclopyr

Bare ground areas

  • triclopyr

Additional Image