Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Birdfoot Trefoil

I have found only one small patch of Birdfoot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, and that on a gravelly, sunny spot. I expect that in time I will uncover many more specimens around the lake. It is amazing how many times that has happened! I'll discover one small example of a new species and imagine that it must be some rare find and during the next few walks I'll see it all over the place.

Here is a wonderful description by a father and son team who describe themselves as "Seedsmen and Nurserymen to the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland":

"Flowers eight or ten, in depressed heads, generally of a bright yellow, but sometimes orange-coloured, especially before being fully expanded ; stem decumbent, smooth ; root thick and fusiform ; perennial; flowers about the 20th of June, and continues till the end of August. Height from six inches to one foot- Grows abundantly on dry elevated pastures and heathy soils.

This plant is well deserving of cultivation on light dry and high elevated inferior soils, and on such will yield a greater bulk of herbage than any of the cultivated clovers. It is highly nutritious, and eaten with avidity by cattle. From the great depth to which its roots penetrate, it is not liable to be injured by drought, and is thereby enabled to retain its verdure after the grasses and other plants are burnt up."

Lawson, Peter & Son. The Agriculturist's Manual. Edinburgh, 1836. 162. Google Book Search. Web. 23 Jun 2009.

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