Lotus purshianus (American Bird's-foot Trefoil)
|Also known as:||Prairie Bird's-foot Trefoil|
|Habitat:||sun; prairies, along roads and railroads|
|Bloom season:||June - September|
|Plant height:||6 to 20 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single flower is at the end of a hairy stalk that arises from a leaf axil. Flowers are 1/8 to ¼ inch long, white or yellowish white and a typical shape for a member of the Pea family. Behind the flower are long narrow bracts covered in long white hairs. One plant has many flowers, on branching stems.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are mostly compound in groups of 3, alternately attached with little or no leaf stalk. A single simple leaf is also attached to the flower stalk, just below the bracts. Leaflets are up to ¾ inch long and ¼ inch wide, toothless, hairy, with a pointed tip and tapering or rounded at the base. The main stem is densely covered in fine hairs.
This plant also goes by the synomym Lotus unifoliolatus. It is not very widespread in Minnesota and not found in any of my field guides, so it was a bit of a challenge to identify. It was a surprise find, too, since there was no record of it in the Twin Cities area until now.
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Photos taken at Rice Creek Trail Corridor, Shoreview, MN
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?