Trifolium pratense (Red Clover)
|Also known as:|
|Origin:||Europe, Asia, Africa|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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.
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.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
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