Meadowmat wildflower species: Birdsfoot Trefoil
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is one of Europe's native species of wildflower, which grows predominately in dry grasslands. This yellow wild flower is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows to roughly 60cm long with clusters of flowers. The flowers are instantly recognisable thanks to their distinctive shape; the deep yellow double petals are like little scoops.
When does birdsfoot trefoil bloom?
The flowers appear from early spring to early summer. These are replaced by seed pods that are often called 'Granny's toenails' - a name that is unflattering yet aptly descriptive. The seed pods are perhaps the most obvious sign that this is a variety of pea plant. The blue-green leaves are ovals that broaden out towards the tip and the extensive roots ensure relative hardiness and an ability to thrive in wet or quite dry conditions.
Where to find birdsfoot trefoil
These grow well in garden lawns and are just one of many varieties that can be found in a Meadowmat roll of meadow flowers ready to lay as a landscaped, ready-made meadow. Birdsfoot trefoil also feature on the RHS 'perfect for pollinators' list, which is a handy guide for anyone looking to choose plants and wildflowers for their gardens that will encourage bees and butterflies to flourish.
Attracting pollinators to your garden
To maximise the chances of pollinating insects visiting your garden it is important to plant a variety of flowers, since different flowers and plants will attract different species of bees and butterflies. For instance, birdsfoot trefoil is rich in nectar and flowers during the early part of spring and summer, and is therefore most likely to attract bees, plus varieties of butterfly such as the common blue and meadow brown butterflies, the larvae of which feed well on them.
Traditionally, the seed pods were talked about in legends and stories of evil, being called 'devil's claws', but they were also used as protective charms during midsummer festivals to ward off evil. The latter could have been because of their tri-foliate leaves and a loose connection with the holy trinity.
A further benefit of this little yellow wild flower is that thanks to the fact that it is a member of the pea family, it helps to fertilise the soil by converting nitrogen from the air. Incorporating it as part of your wildflower garden will therefore benefit not only the pollinating insects that are attracted to it, but also your soil and other plants - as well as adding a beautiful splash of colour to your meadow garden.