Nature on our doorsteps: Yellows and Blues
Yellow Bird’s-foot Trefoil can sometimes be tinged with orange

Nature on our doorsteps: Yellows and Blues

The lovely Bird’s-foot Trefoil is in full bloom at the moment.

This native wildflower is a member of the pea family of plants.

It grows widely along roadsides and in flowering meadows.

It is a low-growing plant, reaching up to only 30cm high.

It is most noticeable when it tumbles over the kerb of roadside verges, forming a mass of yellow flowers.

Each flowering stem holds between two to seven bright yellow flowers at its tip. When these flowers are pollinated, long thin seed pods form. These turn black when seeds mature.

The arrangement and colour of these pods gives the plant its name of ‘bird’s-foot’, because they look like birds’ toes radiating out from a central point like a claw.

The Common Blue Butterfly is associated mostly with Bird’s-foot Trefoil

Bird’s-foot Trefoil is rich in nectar, and it attracts many butterflies and bumblebees.

The Common Blue butterfly is particularly associated with this plant.

The adults sip the nectar while the leaves are the main food plant for its caterpillars.

This makes Bird’s-foot Trefoil a very important ‘one-stop-shop’ for this butterfly species.

While feeding, Common Blues absorb substances called flavonoids from the plant.

These substances enhance the intensity of the butterfly’s colours, particularly in the females.

This helps to make them more noticeable to a passing male which, of course, is an important advantage during breeding season.

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