Deer-vetches are hairless or hairy annual or perennial herbs with spreading to erect, firm to hollow stems. The leaves are pinnately divided into 3 or more leaflets, and the stipules are glandlike, membranous, or expanded and leafletlike. The flowers are pea-like, axil-borne and stalkless, or arranged in stalked, 1- to many-flowered umbels. Flowers are colored white or yellow but often tinged with reddish-purple. The main flower stalks are non-bracted or having a simple to divided bract between midlength and the tip, which may consist of 3 to 5 leaflets. The calyx is trumpet-shaped, its teeth triangular to linear, from longer to much shorter than the tube. The flowers have 10 stamens, in 2 often unequal sets, with the free portion of alternate filaments considerably widened. The seed pods, or legumes, are 1- to many-seeded, usually sideways flattened and splitting open, but sometimes much shortened and curved and staying closed. This is a large genus of nearly 150 species worldwide, rather cosmopolitan, but mainly distributed in the temperate zone. Several of our native perennials of this genus should all be considered desirable garden subjects. They are easily transplanted or grown from seed and do not become invasive, in spite of their rhizome-bearing habit.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Lotus
LEAVES WITH 5 LEAFLETS. FLOWERS YELLOW
L. corniculatus Birdfoot Deer-vetch Stems trailing to ascending, 10-40 cm tall. Bottomlands or wet places.
Flowers yellow, 8-15 mm long, about 3-15 in long-stalked, head-like umbels.
Leaves with 5 leaflets, the lowest pair basal, the other 3 on a short stalk.