Over three years the flowering phenology of individuals of Lotus corniculatus has been studied in relation to fruit set and seed predation to determine the relationships between four components of flowering time, plant size and reproductive success. Timings of first and peak flowering, and duration and synchrony of flowering differed between individuals in the same years. Between years, timing of first flowering was highly correlated for the same individuals, and was closely correlated with plant size and duration of flowering–larger plants flowered earlier and for a longer period. Peak flowering and synchrony were not correlated between-years for individuals.
Fruit production and seed predation were correlated with some of the components of flowering phenology in some years, but not in others. The inconstancy of these relationships suggests that directional or stabilising selection is not acting consistently on the aspects of reproductive success studied in this work. The inconstancy of selection may result in the rather asynchronous flowering phenologies of individuals of L. corniculatus observed.
We emphasize the importance of studying different components of flowering phenology in relation to individual plant size over several seasons. This work has shown that plant size not only has a direct effect on individual plant fecundity but also can influence flowering time and hence indirectly affect reproductive output.