Trifolium campestre (Low Hop Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as: Field Clover, Plains Clover
Genus:Trifolium
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual, biennial
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; fields, waste areas, roadsides
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:6 to 10 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] A single round to oval flower head on a short stalk arising from a leaf axil. Heads are about ½ inch long, densely packed with tiny yellow pea-shaped flowers that turn a creamy color then rusty brown before going to seed, giving plants a somewhat calico appearance. A plant has 20 to 40 flowers in a head and numerous flower heads on branching stems.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in 3s on a stalk about ½ inch long. Leaflets are ½ to ¾ inch long, finely toothed except near the base, rounded at the tip and tapering at the base, with a distinct stalk on the middle leaflet and the other 2 leaflets stalkless. A pair of leafy appendages (stipule) at the leaf joint are oval with a pointed tip and about half the length of the leaf stalk. Stems are covered in fine hairs; growth habit is spreading with many branches.

Notes:

This weed was introduced as a “soil improvement” and forage crop and quickly escaped cultivation. It is more widely distributed within the state than the very similar Golden Hop Clover (Trifolium aureum). As its name suggests, Low Hop Clover has a lower growth habit but the most distinguishing characteristic is that the central leaflet has a distinct stalk where Golden Hop Clover leaflets are all stalkless. Also similar is Black Medic (Medicago lupulina), another low growing weed with round yellow flower heads, but its flowers are about half the size of Low Hop Clover.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in St. Louis County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Ruth Anne - Cook County
on: 2011-07-25 17:47:06

Dense mats of these flowers bloom on the roadside of our property on Lake Superior.

Posted by: Cheryl - Grand Marais MN
on: 2011-07-27 17:25:31

This flower has entirely taken over our lawn ... looks pretty but it's choking out the grass.

Posted by: Dale - Sioux City Iowa
on: 2013-06-30 11:42:27

I just noticed this Low Hop Clover in my yard. It does choke out the grass, but I believe it puts nitrogen back into the soil making the soil very rich. It is a very pretty little flower and all parts of this plant are edible. The seed is mature in the fall as I understand it.

Posted by: Tamia - Sherburne County/Wildlife Refuge
on: 2015-06-15 13:39:16

This grows on the roadside, and based on previous comments will be transplanting into our yard. We are changing over from grass to bee/butterfly/low maintenance yard.

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