Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Lotus jacobaeus L.

Half-hardy, erect perennial with pinnate leaves, composed of 5 linear leaflets, to 4cm long, and axillary clusters of pea-like, chocolate to purple-brown flowers plus some yellow on the same plant, mainly in summer.  To 90cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This species of Lotus has been called black-flower’d, not that the flowers are absolutely black, for they are of a very rich brown inclined to purple, but because they appear so at a little distance; the light colour of the foliage contributes not a little to this appearance. […] It continues to flower during the whole of the summer; as it is very apt to die off without any apparent cause, care should be taken to have a succession of plants from seeds, if possible.’ [BM t.79/1789].  Introduced to Britain in 1714.  [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [T.650/1857].


Published Dec 23, 2009 - 03:41 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2010 - 12:27 PM

Figured are pinnate leaves and erect racemes of chocolate-purple and yellow flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.79, 1789.

Lotus jacobaeus L. | BM t.79/1789 | BHL

Family Fabaceae
Region of origin

Cape Verde Islands

Common Name

St James trefoil

Name in the Camden Park Record

Lotus Jacobaeus 

Confidence level high