Trifolium pratense (Red Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Trifolium
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe, Asia, Africa
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:sun; fields, along roads
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:6 to 36 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
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

[photo of flowers] Round to oval flower heads, ¾ to 1 inch across, on a short stalk, sometimes stalkless, densely packed with small pea-shaped flowers, and 1 or 2 small compound leaves at the base of the cluster. Flowers are dull pink to rosy purple, erect with the upper petal triangular and stretched diagonally, the lateral wings below it angled out hiding the small keel below. The tubular calyx holding the flower can also be smooth or beset with long spreading hairs and has sharp linear teeth that reach the base of the open petals. A plant has several to many flower heads on branching stems.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are palmately compound in 3s. Leaves near the base of the plant are long stalked, greatly shortened in upper portions to nearly stalkless at the top of the plant. Leaflets are oval-elliptic, ½ to 1½ inch long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, stalkless, finely toothed to toothless, with sparse hairs along the edges and typically with a light colored “V” pattern in the middle of the leaflet.

[photo of stipule] Stipules are oval to elliptic with a sharp point at the tip, and strongly veined. Stems are nearly erect or sprawling and covered with fine flattened hairs. Branching is dense at the base with a few smaller branches from upper leaf axils.

Notes:

A widely introduced agricultural forage species, Red Clover easily escapes cultivation and is common through out the state in pastures, field margins and road ditches. While not as persistently aggressive as other non-native forage introductions, it claims more than its fair share of photosynthetic real estate.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.

Comments

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

Posted by: Denise - Chisago County, Stacy
on: 2011-07-24 08:59:24

I planted native prairie (about 1 acre) in 2002. I have since had lots of problems with the red clover. It takes over even the bluestem grasses, so I'm always digging them out, and it overshadows many of the natives.

Posted by: Nathan - Lake of the Isles
on: 2015-10-22 11:21:08

there

Posted by: Dana - Maplewood
on: 2017-04-17 19:29:26

I'm considering replacing my lawn with red, crimson, and white Dutch clover. Are there problems I should be aware of? Thank you! Dana

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-04-17 21:40:43

Dana, why not use native ground covers, wild strawberry, for example?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.