Trifolium fragiferum (Strawberry Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Trifolium
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Eurasia, Africa
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; lawns, roadsides
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:3 to 6 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

[photo of flowers] A single round flower head on a 3 to 6 inch stalk arising from a leaf axil. Heads are 1/3 to ½ inch diameter, densely packed with tiny, stalkless, pea-shaped flowers. Flowers are about ¼ inch long, with an upward curved petal (standard) that is rounded at the tip, small lateral wings below it and a smaller keel in the throat. Flowers are rosy pink to white turning darker pink with age. The calyx cupping the flower is densely hairy, covered in a network of veins, and is  2-lipped, the upper with 2 narrowly linear teeth that are often reddish-brown.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate but appear basal before the stem elongates, and are palmately compound in 3s on a hairless to variously hairy stalk up to about 3 inches long. Leaflets are 3/8 to 1 inch long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, oval to elliptic, widest at or above the middle, rounded at the tip, tapered at base, and stalkless. The upper surface is hairless, the lower hairless to variously hairy, especially along the midvein. Edges have very fine, sharp teeth.

[photo of stipules] A leafy appendage (stipule) about ¾ inch long is attached at the base of the leaf stalk, lance-shaped to triangular, gradually tapering to a sharply pointed tip, and sheathing the stem at the base. Stems are hairless to variously hairy, horizontal (stolons), running along the ground and rooting at the nodes, forming tangled mats. Flowering stems are hairless to variously hairy and extend to about twice as long as the leaf stalks.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] The flower head becomes a creamy yellowish-white to pale gray seed head rather larger than the flower head. The persistent calyx becomes a much inflated capsule, with the 2 teeth from the upper lip flanking the small opening at the tip. Inside are 1 or 2 brown, kidney-shaped seeds.

Notes:

This native of Eurasia and North Africa has been cultivated as a forage crop in parts of the western US and is a new introduction to Minnesota. It is known more as a lawn pest and is not known to invade high quality habitat, though, like other clovers, can be difficult to control once established. Only 3 confirmed locations are known at this time, but it is quite likely under-reported due to its similarity to the more ubiquitous White Clover (Trifolium repens) as well as Alsike Clover (Trifolium hybridum), both of which have a hairless calyx where Strawberry Clover has a distinctly hairy calyx. All 3 species may be found growing together, which further obscures things to the casual observer, but when fruiting, the unique seed head of Strawberry Clover easily distinguishes it from all other clovers.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Wild Ones Twin Cities Chapter

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at a grassy roadside right of way in Thief River Falls, Pennington County.

Comments

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

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.