Lotus (genus)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
bird's-foot trefoil
Lotus corniculatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Loteae
Genus: Lotus

Between 70–150; see text

  • 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 world-wide. Depending on the taxonomic authority, roughly between 70 and 150 are accepted. Lotus is a genus of legume and its members are adapted to a wide range of habitats, from coastal environments to high altitudes. 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".

The genus Lotus is currently undergoing extensive taxonomic revision. All species native to North America have been recently moved to the genera Acmispon and Hosackia in the second edition of The Jepson Manual.

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.

Selected species[edit]

Lotus berthelotii


  1. ^ Allan GJ, Porter JM. (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. ^ Degtjareva GV, Kramina TE, Sokoloff DD, Samigullin TH, Valiejo-Roman CM, Antonov AS. (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. ^ Degtjareva GV, Kramina TE, Sokoloff DD, Samigullin TH, Sandral G, Valiejo-Roman CM. (2008). "New data on nrITS phylogeny of Lotus (Leguminosae, Loteae)". Wulfenia. 15: 35–49. 
  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.)
  8. ^ "Lotus tenuis". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Lotus tenuis, ITIS report

External links[edit]