Vascular – Exotic
Herbs - Dicotyledons other than Composites
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Scrambling herb, either forming dense yellow flowered patches or scrambling through other vegetation, leaves with 5 lobes, small ( c. 1 cm) yellow, pea-like flowers in groups of 12 or more at the branch tips.
Common in higher rainfall areas throughout New Zealand.
Terrestrial. Especially common in wetter areas. Waste places, pasture, frequently along drains and in swamps.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte (non-wetlands).
Clover-like perennial legume, scrambling to 1 m (2 m if supported). Roots fibrous. Stems with stolons, hollow, hairless to moderately hairy, woody at base often dying back to base in dry conditions. Leaves stalkless, 3-foliolate with 2 smaller leaflets (stipules) at base, usually with a few hairs beneath and on margins; leaflets 8-22 mm long, with conspicuous lateral veins. Flowers pea-like, 11-13 mm long, fragrant, golden yellow; clustered 5-12 on stalk 12-15 cm long, Nov-Mar. Seed pods straight, thin, 15-35 mm long.
L. angustissimus slender birdsfoot trefoil is a shaggy-hairy annual, with reddish, wiry stems, flowers 1-2 clustered. L. suaveolens hairy birdsfoot trefoil has orange-yellow flowers, pods radiating from a point (like a birdsfoot), stems hairy, prostrate, not woody; leaves hairy. L. tenuis has small thin leaflets; few, small, yellow (occ orange reddish) flowers. Other Lotus spp and new cvs of L. pedunculatus (e.g. Maku) used as pasture, crop and plantation forestry pre-plant species.
November, December, January
Summer and autumn
Perennial. Seed dispersed by water or contaminated machinery as well as by animals via dung and intentional plantings.
Forms persistent seedbank. Stems running along the ground capable of forming new plants at the tips (Webb et al., 1988).
Europe, Asia and North Africa
Reason for introduction
Not controlled in New Zealand.
Tolerates wet to dampish, hot to cold, poor soils, low fertility (fixes nitrogen), little shade, grazing.
Factsheet prepared by Paul Champion and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA).
References and further reading
Webb, C.J.; Sykes, W.R.; Garnock-Jones, P.J. (1988). Flora of New Zealand Volume 4: Naturalised pteridophytes, gymnosperms, dicotyledons. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch. 1365 pp.
Popay et al (2010). An illustrated guide to common weeds of New Zealand, third edition. NZ Plant Protection Society Inc, 416pp.
Johnson PN, Brooke PA (1989). Wetland plants in New Zealand. DSIR Field Guide, DSIR Publishing, Wellington. 319pp.