Pasture Plant Photos > Birdsfoot Trefoil
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Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot trefoil is a moderately long-lived herbaceous perennial legume. It has a well developed, branching, tap-like root with side roots near the soil surface. Most cultivars are erect and grow to a height of 2 to 3 feet. The stems are slender, branch well, and are moderately leafy. Leaves are smooth and consist of 5 leaflets. The bloom is made up of a cluster of bright yellow flowers arranged in a whorl at the end of the flowering stems. When ripe, the brown seed pods extend outward from the stalk and look like a bird's foot. The plant remains green and succulent during and after seed ripening. For forage production birdsfoot trefoil is typically seeded at 4 to 8 pounds per acre either alone or with a grass. There are an average of 375,000 seeds per pound. Birdsfoot trefoil does not cause bloat in ruminant animals. To protect the life of the stand, it does require careful management. Birdsfoot must be allowed to grow to maturity every third year or so in order to produce a seed crop--thus sustaining the stand. Birdsfoot trefoil benefits from readily available phosphorous. Phosphorous should be applied annually based on local soil testing recommendations.