May 28, 2017

Pretty Pest

Lotus corniculatus - bird's-foot trefoil

Lotus corniculatus – bird’s-foot trefoil | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Present in nearly every state in the nation, Lotus corniculatus is considered invasive in some parts of the country. This member of the pea family is native to Eurasia and is often used as a forage crop for pasture, hay and silage. Its common name, bird’s-foot trefoil, comes from the way the seed pods are held in the form of a bird’s foot. The plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, which means when the plant is attacked (such as chewed), it releases hydrogen cyanide. The dose is exceedingly low, however. Interestingly, bird’s-foot trefoil is one the few blooms in the language of flowers with a negative meaning; it symbolizes revenge.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.