This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
From June to October our commons, pastures, downs and railway banks are bright with the flowers of Bird's-foot Trefoil, or as it is termed in some districts, Lady's Slipper, a name which properly belongs to the rare orchis Cypripeduim.
Bird's foot Trefoil.
Lotus corniculatus. - Leguminosae. -
The plant belongs to the same Natural Order (Leguminosae) as the Broom (see page 7 ante), and its flowers are of similar construction, though much smaller. There is a short, woody, perennial rootstock, from which originate several trailing branches, which are themselves much branched. The leaves are not trefoils, as the name would lead us to suppose, for the apparent stipules at the base of the leaf-stalk are in this genus leaflets. The flowers, which are in spreading heads of from three to ten flowers, are of a pretty yellow, tinted with red. They are succeeded by little cylindrical pods about an inch in length, which, when three or four are in a cluster, present the appearance of a bird's claws. The plant is a valued ingredient in the formation of pastures and meadows. The name was given to the genus because this was believed to be one of the plants to which the ancient Greeks applied the name Lotus.
There are three other species natives of Britain : I. Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil (L-. uliginosus). More or less erect in habit. The calyx-teeth spreading in bud (in L. comiculatus they are erect in bud). Moist meadows and swampy places. July.and August.
II. Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil (L. hispidus). Annual, trailing stems, long and slender, covered with lax hairs. Pods twice the length of calyx. Banks near the sea from Hants to Cornwall. July and August. Rare.
III. Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil (L. angustissimus). Similar to L. hispidus, but stems shorter and more slender. Pod four times the length of calyx. Similar situations as last, but extending as far eastward as Kent. Very rare.