Lotus (genus)

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Lotus
LOTUS CORNICULATUS - FIGUEROLA - IB-377 (Lot corniculat).JPG
bird's-foot trefoil
Lotus corniculatus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Loteae
Genus: Lotus
L.
Type species
Lotus corniculatus
L.
Species

Between 70–150; see text

Synonyms[1][2][3]
  • Anisolotus Bernh. ex Schltdl.
  • Benedictella Maire
  • Dorycnium Mill.
  • Heinekenia Webb ex Christ
  • Pedrosia Lowe
  • Tetragonolobus Scop.

Lotus, a latinization of Greek lōtos (λωτός),[4] is a genus that includes most bird's-foot trefoils (also known as bacon-and-eggs[5]) and deervetches[6] and contains many dozens of species distributed worldwide. Depending on the taxonomic authority, roughly between 70 and 150 are accepted. Lotus is a genus of legumes and its members are adapted to a wide range of habitats, from coastal environments to high altitudes.

The genus Lotus is currently undergoing extensive taxonomic revision. Species native to the Americas have been moved into other genera, such as Acmispon and Hosackia, as in the second edition of The Jepson Manual.

The aquatic plant commonly known as the Indian or sacred lotus is Nelumbo nucifera, a species not closely related to Lotus.

Description[edit]

Most species have leaves with five leaflets; two of these are at the extreme base of the leaf, with the other three at the tip of a naked midrib. This gives the appearance of a pair of large stipules below a "petiole" bearing a trefoil of three leaflets – in fact, the true stipules are minute, soon falling or withering.[7] Some species have pinnate leaves with up to 15 leaflets. The flowers are in clusters of three to ten together at the apex of a stem with some basal leafy bracts; they are pea-flower shaped, usually vivid yellow, but occasionally orange or red. The seeds develop in three or four straight, strongly diverging pods, which together make a shape reminiscent of the diverging toes of a small bird, leading to the common name "bird's-foot".

Taxonomy[edit]

The genus Lotus is taxonomically complex. It has at times been divided into subgenera and split into segregate genera, but with no consistent consensus. P.H. Raven in 1971 is said to have been the first to suggest that the "New World" (American) and "Old World" (African and Eurasian) species did not belong in the same genus. A molecular phylogenetic study in 2000 based on nuclear ribosomal ITS sequences confirmed this view.[1] The New World species have been divided between the genera Hosackia s.str., Ottleya, Acmispon and Syrmatium. A 2006 study, primarily concerned with Old World Lotus species and hence with limited sampling of the American genera, found that they were all monophyletic. The study also supported the view that Dorycnium and Tetragonolobus are not distinct from Lotus at the generic level.[2] More species were added to the 2006 results in 2008, but did not alter the broad conclusions reached before. Clades were identified within Lotus s.str., some of which were significantly different from the sections into which the genus had been divided. However, resolution was incomplete. The results of the analysis were presented in terms of clades and complexes.[3]

Species[edit]

Lotus berthelotii

Species placed elsewhere[edit]

Uses and ecology[edit]

Pasture with Lotus corniculatus (common bird's-foot trefoil, birds-foot deervetch)

Lotus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species. Several species are culvivated for forage, including L. corniculatus, L. glaber, and L. pedunculatus. They can produce toxic cyanogenic glycosides which can be potentially toxic to livestock, but also produce tannins, which are a beneficial anti-bloating compound.

Species in this genus can fix nitrogen from the air courtesy of their root nodules, making them useful as a cover crop. The nodulating symbionts are Bradyrhizobium and Mesorhizobium bacteria. Scientific research for crop improvement and understanding the general biology of the genus is focused on Lotus japonicus, which is currently the subject of a full genome sequencing project, and is considered a model organism.

Some species, such as L. berthelotii from the Canary Islands, are grown as ornamental plants. L. corniculatus is an invasive species in some regions of North America and Australia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Allan, G.J. & Porter, J.M. (2000). "Tribal delimitation and phylogenetic relationships of Loteae and Coronilleae (Faboideae: Fabaceae) with special reference to Lotus: evidence from nuclear ribosomal ITS sequences". American Journal of Botany. 87 (12): 1871–1881. doi:10.2307/2656839. JSTOR 2656839. PMID 11118424.
  2. ^ a b Degtjareva, G.V.; Kramina, T.E.; Sokoloff, D.D.; Samigullin, T.H.; Valiejo-Roman, C.M. & Antonov, A.S. (2006). "Phylogeny of the genus Lotus (Leguminosae, Loteae): Evidence from nrITS sequences and morphology". Canadian Journal of Botany. 84 (5): 813–830. doi:10.1139/b06-035.
  3. ^ a b Degtjareva, G.V.; Kramina, T.E.; Sokoloff, D.D.; Samigullin, T.H.; Valiejo-Roman, C.M. & Antonov, A.S. (2008). "New data on nrITS phylogeny of Lotus (Leguminosae, Loteae)" (PDF). Wulfenia. 15: 35–49. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  4. ^ "lotus, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Collins English Dictionary
  6. ^ See Acmispon
  7. ^ C. A. Stace, Interactive Flora of the British Isles, a Digital Encyclopaedia: Lotus. ISBN 90-75000-69-3. (Online version Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine)

External links[edit]