Trifolium pratense

Red Clover

Botanical description: Red Clover is such a commonly occurring plant that one could easily assume it to be a native. Initially introduced to North America as a component of forage crops, Trifolium pratense is tolerant of many habitats and has long since naturalized fields, roadsides and vacant lots. Attractive clusters of small, individual flowers form the familiar mauve blooms of red clover. Easily identifiable, its leaflets are in threes and are covered with small hairs, displaying a white V on each blade. Red clover blooms from June to August at which time it is visited by bees, moths and butterflies. Although not as prolific as white clover, red clover can be used as livestock forage and as a bee plant in honey production. The entire plant is much larger than the more diminutive white clover, growing to a height of 18 - 24 inches. As a perennial, the plant expends more energy into root development than simply seed production. The tough, expansive root system, with both taproot and rhizomes, enables the red clover to withstand the fluctuations of weather to persist and spread. Clover has the ability to increase its localized soil fertility through the presence of nitrogen-fixing nodules on its roots, and has long been used as a cover crop in agriculture.