Trifolium repens (White Clover)
|Also known as:||Dutch Clover|
|Habitat:||shade, sun; lawns, fields, roadsides, open woods|
|Bloom season:||May - October|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
Round flower head ½ inch across densely packed with tiny white pea-shaped flowers, on a slender smooth stalk about 3 inches long that emerges directly perpendicular to the creeping horizontal stems at ground level. The heads are generally held about an inch or more higher than the thick carpet of surrounding leaf faces. Flowers are tiny, the upper petal (standard) is oval-lance like, the lateral paddle shaped wings below it angle out widely with a small keel exposed in the center. Petals are white, fading to a dirty pink with age. The calyx tube holding the flower is hairless, greenish white with green toothed lobes.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are palmately compound in 3s, on a 1 to 3-inch stalk, alternately attached and perpendicular to the stem running along the ground. Leaflets are broadly oval to nearly round, about ½ inch diameter, finely toothed, rounded at the tip and slightly tapered toward the base, very commonly with a white crescent across the middle of the leaflets but not always. Stems are smooth, growing horizontally on soil surface, 4 to 12 inches long, rooting down at the nodes.
Notes:The native range of White Clover is Europe to western Asia and into north Africa but has been introduced as a forage species for livestock throughout the world. While more regional varieties likely existed naturally, today there are many “cultivars” that express size differences as well as drought or cold temperature tolerances, plus a few “ornamentals” for the garden trade. Regardless of herbarium records, it is highly doubtful this species does not persist (un)naturally in every county in the state. Similar species is the less ubiquitous Alsike Clover (Trifolium hybridum), which is a more upright plant, without the crescent shape on the leaflets.
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Aitkin counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?