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Trifolium pratense

Phonetic Spelling
try-FOH-lee-um pray-TEN-see
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

The common name for Trifolium pratense, Red Clover, can be confusing as the flowers are more a pink to pink/purplish, not a true red.  It is grown as a forage crop for pasturage, hay and green manure for livestock.   It is a nitrogen-fixing plant and is often grown as a cover crop to improve soil fertility.  Its native habitat includes fields, pastures, meadows, waste areas, and along roadsides.  It can be found in grassy locations that are not regularly mowed. 

It can be easily distinguished from other varieties of clover by the large pink flower heads as well as the chevrons that appear on the leaflets.

Its flowers have a honey-like fragrance.  The foliage can produce a pleasant clover-like scent.  The flowering heads and foliage are both edible, both raw or cooked.  Its young leaves should be harvested before the plant flowers.  They can be used in salads or soups or cooked similar to spinach.  The flowering heads as well as the seed pods can be dried and used as a flour substitute.  The young flower are also eaten raw in salads.  

It has also been widely used for athlete's foot, constipation, ulcers, corms, and menopause. Red clover contains isoflavones. The edible flowers taste sweet or like hay but they are not easily digestible.  Do not eat the flowers if pregnant or nursing.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Its self-seeding and vigorous rhizomes can make this plant invasive.

Clover rot can be an issue.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#invasive#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#weeds#wildlife plants#weedy#fragrant leaves#legume#herbaceous#rhizomes#herbaceous perennials#self-seeding#short lifespan#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#clouded sulphur butterfly#shade intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#invasive#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#weeds#wildlife plants#weedy#fragrant leaves#legume#herbaceous#rhizomes#herbaceous perennials#self-seeding#short lifespan#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#clouded sulphur butterfly#shade intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Trifolium
    Species:
    pratense
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Biennial
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant supports Clouded Sulfur (Colias philodice) larvae which appear from May to October in the North and from March to November in the South. There are 3 flights in the North and 4 to 5 flights in the South. Adult Clouded Sulfur butterflies feed on flower nectar from many different plants. Bees, butterflies (and their caterpillars) and some moths are attracted to the nectar.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    The leaves and you flowering heads are edible, raw or cooked.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 8 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Weed
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Description:
    Each flower head is eventually replaced by a seedpod. The con contain 1 or 2 heart shaped seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Each flower head consists of numerous, outward spreading tubular flowers. Flowers have 5 pink/purplish-pink narrow petals.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Long hairy petioles on the lower leaves. Leaflets can be up to 2" long and 3/4" wide. White or light green chevrons appear on the upper surface of each leaflet. 1 to 3 leaflets are directly below each flower head.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The hairy stem may occasionally branch.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Short-lived