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Lotus

Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Perennials

Produces trailing stems that are often completely prostrate. Leaves are divided into leaflets. Flowers are sweet pea shaped, in shades of red to yellow. Plants with the common name “Lotus” are not in this genus.

Lotus berthelotii

Woody-based perennial native to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands. Grows to 8–12 in. high, with trailing, 2–3-ft.-long stems thickly covered with silvery gray leaves with three to five leaflets. Very narrow, 1-in., scarlet blossoms in summer. Space plants 2 ft. apart as a groundcover; cut back occasionally to induce bushiness. Also very effective in hanging baskets or as a cascader over a wall or rocks. Dies back in cold weather; suffers root rot where drainage is poor. Not a long-lived plant in very mild climates.

Lotus maculatus

Canary Island native resembling L. berthelotii. Grows to 8–12 in. high and 2–3 ft. wide. Known mainly through its selections. ‘Gold Flash’ has bright yellow flowers with striking orange-red markings; needs cool nights to set flower buds. ‘New Gold Flash’ (blossom color similar to that of ‘Gold Flash’) and ‘Amazon Sunset’ (bright orange-red) are similar in plant and flower form to ‘Gold Flash’, but they bloom better where nights remain warm.

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