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(Lotus pedunculatus)


Sometimes called by it's former Latin name, Lotus major. Tolerant of wet or acid soils and shade. Not very competitive in better environments. Has underground rhizomes which can store carbohydrate in autumn for overwintering, making the plant useful in South Island high country. Contains condensed tannins which improve protein absorption by grazing animals.

Vegetative identification

  • Leaves at first glance appear to have five leaflets. In fact the two stipules at the base of the petiole have a leaf-like appearance;

  • leaves ranging from almost hairless to quite obviously hairy;

  • stems not able to support their own weight, at first ascending, then if not grazed, sprawling loosely on the ground in an interwoven mat.
  • Flowers bright yellow in clusters of 5-15;

  • pods straight, cylindrical, and pointed attached to a central point like spokes of a wheel;

  • seeds smaller than those of white clover, almost spherical, yellow-orange or red-brown to grey-green in colour.
Other species  
  • Several other species of Lotus also occur in New Zealand, on road side verges and waste ground. Lotus corniculatus (birdsfoot trefoil) is now commercially available, recommended for use on less fertile soils in regions with warm dry summer conditions.

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Page last modified on 25 February 2003 and will expire on 1 January 2004