Scientific Name: Trifolium pratense
Family Name: Fabaceae
Leaf: Ovate, green, compound leaves possessing three leaflets. Each leaflet is ½ - 2 in. (1.5 5 cm.) long with a white V pattern in the middle of the leaflet.
Plant: 6 24 in. (15 60 cm.) tall with a hairy stem.
Identifying Characteristics: The white V pattern on Red Clover can help to identify it from other plants. However, white clover leaflets have the same pattern. To distinguish Red Clover from White Clover, the most reliable identifying characteristic is the pink to purple flower head, which is unique to Red Clover.
Location: We found Red Clover growing on the Brandeis University campus next to the baseball field at the Gosman Gym.
History and Comments: Red Clover is native to Europe and is one of the earliest species introduced into the Americas, probably arriving in the 1500's and in the Northeastern United States, in the 18th century. Colonists brought it with them as a pasture crop for their cattle and to use in crop rotations. Red Clover stores Nitrogen in its roots, which makes it an effective crop to re-energize depleted soil. Because of its utility, Red Clover is frequently planted, and it does not seem to endanger native plants. Red Clover is widely available as an herbal remedy, but of unknown value.