Red Clover

Scientific Name: Trifolium pratense
Family Name: Fabaceae

Flower: 1 in. (2.5 cm.) long and ½ - 1 in. (1.5 – 2.5 cm.) wide, pink or purple, compound flower head. Each individual flower within the flower head is ½ in. (1.5 cm.) long. The flower heads turn brown as fall approaches.

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.
Copyright: Alicia diVittorio and Mia Lefkowitz 2002

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.

    Unless otherwise specified, all text, photographs, and drawings are Copyright (c) by Shu-Yee Chen and Deborah Hamer 2003. No part of this page may be reproduced without prior written consent of the authors.