Trifolium arvense (Rabbit-foot Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as: Hare's-foot Clover
Genus:Trifolium
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:Eurasia
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry sandy soil, disturbed sites
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:4 to 16 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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: round Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Dense, fuzzy, round to cylindrical flower heads ½ to 1 inch long arising from leaf axils and at the tips of branching stems. Flowers are minute, white to pale pink, pea-shaped, and mostly hidden by the 5-lobed, feathery, pink to gray calyx.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in 3s; leaflets are about ¾ inch long and to ¼ inch wide, mostly toothless, tapering at the base, with a blunt or rounded tip and widest at or above the middle. Surfaces are sparsely hairy, and fine hairs are all around the edges.

[photo of stipules] At the base of the leaf stalk is a pair of hairy, awl-shaped appendages (stipules), ¼ to 1/3 inch long, green to red. Stems are erect to ascending, much branched, and densely hairy but may become smooth with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] The feathery calyx persists and holds a 1-seeded, tiny brown pod with barbed spines. Fruit ripens in the fall.

Notes:

Rabbit-foot Clover is easily identified by the fuzzy flower heads.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and Rice Creek Trail Corridor, Ramsey County, and along a roadside in Cass County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.

Comments

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

Posted by: Lisa R - Nevis (12 miles east of Park Rapids)
on: 2009-08-19 09:23:29

So that's what these little plants are! We have them growing along the road in front of our house. It's sandy soil, so I guess they like that.

Posted by: Steve - Demark TWP, Washington County
on: 2010-04-18 08:49:52

This plant is present at Lost Valley SNA. I've only seen it in the East Restoration field but it is quite common there. I've asked the DNR about whether this is something to worry about (being a non-native and all). They said that it something they track but don't currently manage.

I'm trying to monitor the population to see if it has any affect on native populations.

The east restoration is an old farm field that has been planted in natives. The native populations are abundant and quite diverse. But in areas where open ground exists, the rabbit's foot clover has spread. Some spots have thick populations that may influence other plant species ability to establish.

Posted by: Sonja - McGrath
on: 2010-12-09 11:02:54

These are up here too but not alot of them, just little clumps here and there.

Posted by: Stephanie M - Brooklyn Park
on: 2017-07-10 21:19:57

They are in Sandy soil under the power lines in Willowstone Park. There aren't very many. First time I've seen them.

Posted by: Ross - Anoka country
on: 2017-08-18 12:42:34

Very common along freeway shoulder where sandy soil exists. They grow in the zone between perennial grasses and paved roads. Often with common ragweed and horse hair grass. Then they decrease in population and become spotty once I drives into more clay soil areas southward. They are everywhere in central to north Minnesota.

Posted by: John Masengarb - Grey Cloud Dunes SNA
on: 2019-10-05 13:37:27

Found it along the main trail into the SNA from the parking lot in September, 2019. Didn't see it deeper into the prairie, only near the entrance. Very sandy there.

Posted by: Nona Cummings - Oakdale
on: 2020-01-27 15:56:33

Found a lovely roadside patch in Lake Elmo, along Keat's Ave just south of the Lake Elmo Park Reserve entrance. Growing just along the road in the dry, gravel/sandy shoulder of the highway. The patch was only 12" wide and didn't intrude deeper into the ditch where the soil became richer and more mesic. The 12" strip ran for a mile on each side of the road. Eye-catching when in full bloom.

Posted by: Deb Brockberg - South Walker Bay of Leech Lake
on: 2020-08-09 08:12:14

Found at top edge of sandy beach areas.

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