The beautiful Lotus Corniculatus represents an unusual small flowering plant. Believe it or not, it actually constitutes a member of the pea family. But you do not want to eat it. This little beauty actually contains trace amounts of naturally occurring cyanide.
In extremely small amounts, however, the species does have some medicinal uses.
The Lotus Corniculatus also gets widely used as a source of forage for livestock. The majority of livestock, fortunately for them, have a natural tolerance for small concentrations of cyanide than homo sapiens.
Lotus Corniculatus Physical Characteristics
Though seemingly delicate, the Lotus Corniculatus remains a surprisingly hardy perennial species.
This herbaceous plant achieves a maximum known height of nearly 8 in (20 cm) unless supported by other plants. It grows in a sprawling manner along the ground.
Its small flowers display combinations of orange and yellow color. The seeds (not surprisingly since it is part of the pea family) develop in small, elongated pods.
The leaves of the plant grow in groups of five. Typically, three of these form a trefoil pattern over the other two.
Lotus Corniculatus Distribution and Invasiveness
The Lotus Corniculatus remains endemic to a wide swathe of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Within that range, the plant predominantly appears in regions of grasslands.
It has extreme durability, even to the point of surviving trampling by livestock. This species grows equally well in both nutrient-rich soils and nutrient-poor soils.
It most commonly grows in areas of grassland with a high percentage of sand. Farmers often use it in cultivation, especially in Europe. As a result of this practice, it has become considered an invasive species in some portions of Australia and North America.