Information on Bird's-foot

Common Name: Bird's-foot
Scientific Name: Ornithopus perpusillus
Irish Name: Crúba éin
Family Group: Fabaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Bird's-foot is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

This rare species is a most attractive little plant. It is to be found on bare, dry, sandy soil, especially near to the sea. It is procumbent, barely reaching 40cm tall. Perhaps you can first spot it by seeing the pretty rosettes of pinnate leaves. The flowers are extremely small, only 3-5mm long, and they are grouped together in heads, anything from 3 to 6 per head, with a pinnate bract below the flowerhead. The upper petal or standard is pale pink with red veins, the two outer petals or wings are white and the lower two petals which, as in all peaflowers, are fused together into a keel, is a deep golden colour. The plant is downy throughout. The seedpods spread like the bird’s foot for which the species is named, 2 or 3 together. They are also downy and have several sections, each section having one seed. This species flowers from May to August, is mainly found in the south-east of Ireland is a native and it belongs to the Peaflower or Fabaceae family. 

I first saw this species in 1986 in Co Wexford. I didn't see it again until summer 2015, when Paula O’Meara, who is Joint Vice-County Recorder for Co Wexford for the BSBI, kindly told me where it was to be found and we went there to see it together and take photographs. Thank you Paula. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre