Bee-friendly plants series: Birdsfoot trefoil

Birdsfoot trefoil is a member of the pea family. Its bright, cheerful, yellow flowers brighten the edge of many roads…I wonder if the DOT plants it? If so, good on them. A folk name for it is bacon and eggs. It is a perennial and is sometimes used for forage, but I’m guessing it would be more use as a forage before it flowers. Bees love it. It is generous with both nectar and pollen. It has figured as a component in pollination seed mixes I have bought. With its long blooming period …May to September… it is very bee friendly. Seed companies recommend care in preparing a seed bed should you choose to grow birdsfoot trefoil for the bees. The bed should be smooth before broadcasting and rolled after because the seed germinates poorly if it is deeper than 1/4 inch. The good news is that it will thrive in poor soils. This seems like a good plant for honeybees, and with the long bloom period it will help bumblebees complete their life cycle. Identification factoids: the “birdsfoot” comes from the pattern of the seed pods which become apparent after blooming(see picture); the “trefoil” comes from the three leaves (see picture); one identifier is from the fall, the other from the growing season.

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