Lotus cytisoides

Bird’s-foot trefoil                                                                                                Λωτός

Fabaceae - pea family                                                                                            Dicot.


A low growing, Lotus cytisoides, grows on limestone soils, sometimes in narrow crevices in the rock, often close to the shore. The flat topped flower cluster are supported on vertical stalks above the leaves. The leaves are covered in greyish hairs and in summer take on a dull grey look.

20-60 cm                                                                                                  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Lotus (λωτός) ancient Greek name for a variety of unrelated plants

cytisoides - resemblig a cyst ( it is not clear why it has this name)

Lotus / Λωτός

What did the lotus-eaters eat?

The name lotus, from ancient Greek λωτός, as stated by Theophrastus, was used for a variety of unrelated plants.

In searching for the Lotus of Greek mythology one first encounters the lotus which in English is used for the water-lily (Nelumbo nucifera). This lotus has been sacred in Hindu and Buddhist religions for thousands of years, symbolising purity, beauty, wealth  and knowledge, it was prized in ancient Greece and in ancient Egypt was considered to represent the universe. It is edible however was probably not the plant encountered by Odysseus on his journey home from Troy.

In modern botany, a genus of plants of the Fabaceae, the bean and pea, family have been named Lotus. It was chosen by Linnaeus, the father of modern botany for this genus, as Homer in the Iliad, used the word lotus to describe a group of pasture plants.

“And plains with lotus overgrown and, rich tilled lands of men."

All plants of the family have edible seeds or peas, some of which induce a sort of paralysis, lathyrism, but these were probably not not the mythical lotus.

Described in the Odyssey, the lotus-eaters fed bread made from a plant to Odysseus crew; it induced a pleasant euphoric state of forgetfulness. This lotus was most likely the fruit of the jujube or lotus-tree Ziziphus lotus, but other plants have been suggested including the opium poppy.

To further complicate things modern Greeks use the name λωτός for the sweet succulent fruit known in English as persimmons.

What’s in a word!

Lotus angustissimus 
Slender bird’s-foot trefoilLotus_angustissimus.html
Lotus ornithopodiodes 
Bird’s-foot trefoilLotus_ornithopodioides.html