Duration: Perennial Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Herbaceous perennials, to 50 cm tall, sometimes becoming bushy, stems slender, ascending to procumbent, herbage glabrous or nearly so. Leaves: Alternate, trifoliate, leaflets 5-15 mm long, margins entire, stipules green and almost as large as the leaflets. Flowers: Bright yellow, sometimes with an orange tinge, with banner, wing, and keel petals (papilionaceous), 8-12 mm long, calyx turbinate and firm, stamens 10, flowers borne in groups of 3-12 in capitate, compact umbels on erect peduncles up to 12 cm long. Fruits: Pods straight and terete, 20-25 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, surfaces glabrate. Seeds several. Ecology: Found from 3,000-4,000 ft (914-1219 m); flowering June-September. Distribution: Widespread across the United States. Notes: Introduced from Europe. The stipules are a good identifier for this species, these herbaceous, leaf-like, and nearly as large as the leaflets. Ethnobotany: There is no use recorded for this species, but other species in this genus have uses. Etymology: Lotus comes from the Greek and originally applied to a fruit which was said to make those who tasted it forget their homes, while corniculatus means horned. Synonyms: Lotus caucasicus, Linnaeus macbridei, Linnaeus major Editor: LCrumbacher 2012
Taprooted, usually ±glabrous perennial with prostrate to suberect stems to 6 dm; lvs subsessile, 5-foliolate, the lower pair of lfls evidently removed from the 3 crowded terminal lfls and resembling foliaceous stipules; lfls 5-15 mm, elliptic to oblanceolate, mostly 1.5-2.5 times as long as wide; fls mostly 4-8 together, in long-peduncled, head-like umbels from the upper axils; pedicels 1-3 mm; cal-tube 2.8-3.5 mm; cor mostly 10-16 mm, bright yellow, becoming orange and marked with brick-red; filaments unequal, the 5 longer dilated at the tip; fr 1.5-3.5 cm; 2n=24. Native of Europe, cult. as a forage-crop, and widely established in meadows and disturbed habitats in the U.S., common in our range. June-Aug.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.