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Red Clover

Trifolium pratense

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
80 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, lawns, meadows, roadsides, wasteland.

Pink, 5 petals
Pinkish-purple egg-shaped flowers with very short stalks. Sometimes unstalked. Up to 3cm wide.
Egg-shaped pod, not hairy.
Each leaf has 3 finely toothed leaflets, the lower ones being stalked and upper unstalked. Leaflets often have a white crescent in their centres. Leaflets are variable in shape from round to linear and pointed.
Flowers have a slightly pleasant honey-like aroma.
Other Names:
Bee Bread, Broad-leaved Clover, Cleaver Grass, Clovone, Cow Clover, Cow Grass, Honeysuckle Clover, Marl Grass, Meadow Clover, Meadow Honeysuckle, Meadow Trefoil, Purple Clover, Wild Clover.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Trifolium pratense, also known as red clover or purple clover, is a perennial plant in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia and is found in grassland and meadow habitats. The plant has pink or purple flowers that bloom in the summer. It grows to be about 80 cm tall and prefers well-drained, moist soil. It is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens, and it is also used as a natural dye and as a cover crop. Trifolium pratense is also used medicinally for its astringent, expectorant, and estrogenic properties. It is also used as a source of nectar for bees.


Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a type of clover plant that is native to Europe and Asia, but is widely cultivated and naturalized in many other regions of the world. It is commonly used as a cover crop in agriculture, as well as a source of food and medicine for livestock and humans.

Red clover is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows to a height of 20-80 cm, and has trifoliate leaves that are oval-shaped and green in color. The plant produces small, reddish-pink flowers that bloom in clusters from May to September.

Health Benefits

Red clover has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, and has been traditionally used to treat a wide range of health conditions, including respiratory problems, skin conditions, and menstrual disorders. Some of the most commonly cited health benefits of red clover include:

  • Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease: Red clover contains compounds that have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and improve overall cardiovascular health.

  • Easing menopausal symptoms: Red clover has been traditionally used to alleviate hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms associated with menopause.

  • Boosting immunity: Red clover contains compounds that have been shown to have immune-boosting properties, making it a good herb to take during cold and flu season.

  • Supporting bone health: Red clover contains compounds that may help prevent osteoporosis, making it a good herb to take for women approaching menopause.

Nutritional Content

Red clover is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that helps boost immunity and protect against cellular damage.

  • Calcium: An important mineral for maintaining strong bones and teeth.

  • Iron: A mineral that is essential for producing red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout the body.

  • Magnesium: A mineral that plays a role in many important functions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, and immune system health.

  • Phytoestrogens: Compounds in red clover that have a similar chemical structure to the female hormone estrogen, and may help alleviate symptoms of menopause.

Cultivation and Harvesting

Red clover is relatively easy to grow, and can be sown in spring or fall, in a sunny or partially shady location. The plant prefers well-draining soils that are rich in organic matter, and should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer, such as compost or bone meal.

Red clover can be harvested for medicinal use at any time, but the leaves and flowers are usually harvested when they are in full bloom, in late spring or early summer. To harvest, simply cut the entire plant at the base, and hang it upside down to dry. Once dried, the leaves and flowers can be stored in an airtight container for later use.


Red clover is a versatile and easy-to-grow plant that has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. With its many health benefits and its attractive flowers, it's a great addition to any herb garden, or as a cover crop in your vegetable garden. Whether you're looking to boost your immunity, ease menopausal symptoms, or simply enjoy its unique flavor, red clover is a herb that's well worth growing and harvesting.

More Information

Red clover is also used in traditional Chinese medicine and has been studied for its potential health benefits in several areas. Here are a few additional benefits and uses of red clover:

  • Anticancer properties: Some studies have found that red clover may have anticancer properties, particularly in the areas of breast and prostate cancer.

  • Improved skin health: Red clover is sometimes used in skincare products due to its anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties.

  • Improved liver health: Some studies suggest that red clover may help improve liver health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the liver.

  • Improved lung health: Red clover has been used to treat respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis, due to its expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Hormone balance: Due to its phytoestrogen content, red clover may help balance hormones in both men and women.

It's important to note that while red clover is generally considered safe, excessive consumption may cause side effects such as upset stomach, headache, and allergic reactions in some individuals. Additionally, it may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, so it's always best to consult with a healthcare provider before using red clover for medicinal purposes.

Red clover is a versatile and beneficial plant that has a long history of use for its medicinal properties. Whether used as a cover crop, food for livestock, or as a medicinal herb, red clover is a valuable addition to any garden or natural health arsenal.

In addition to its medicinal uses, red clover is also a valuable crop for farmers and gardeners. Some of the benefits of growing red clover include:

  • Nitrogen fixation: Red clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant, meaning that it helps to add nitrogen to the soil, which is essential for the growth of other plants.

  • Erosion control: Red clover is a fast-growing plant that can help control erosion on slopes and other areas where soil is prone to washing away.

  • Weed suppression: Red clover is a fast-growing and dense plant that can help suppress the growth of other weeds in a garden or field.

  • Improved soil health: Red clover helps to improve soil health by adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil, as well as increasing the population of beneficial soil microorganisms.

  • Livestock feed: Red clover is a valuable food source for livestock, including cattle, horses, and sheep. It is high in protein and essential vitamins and minerals, and can be harvested and fed to livestock as a green manure.

In addition to its benefits as a cover crop, red clover is also a valuable source of nectar for pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Whether grown for its medicinal properties, as a cover crop, or simply for its attractive flowers, red clover is a versatile and beneficial plant that has a lot to offer.

Red clover is a hardy and easy-to-grow plant that can be found in a variety of climates, from temperate to sub-tropical regions. It is often grown as a cover crop or forage crop for livestock, but it can also be grown in a garden or wildflower meadow for its attractive flowers and medicinal properties.

When growing red clover, it is important to choose a location that has well-draining soil and full sun or partial shade. Red clover can tolerate a wide range of soil types, but it prefers a soil that is rich in organic matter and has a neutral to slightly acidic pH.

Red clover can be started from seed, and is often sown in the spring or fall. It is a fast-growing plant that will quickly establish itself and begin to provide benefits, such as nitrogen fixation, weed suppression, and improved soil health.

Once established, red clover is a low-maintenance plant that requires very little care. It can be mowed or grazed by livestock to keep it in check, but it is generally a self-sustaining plant that will continue to grow and provide benefits year after year.

In conclusion, red clover is a versatile and beneficial plant that can be used for a variety of purposes, from improving soil health and suppressing weeds to providing food and medicine for humans and livestock. Whether grown in a garden, as a cover crop, or in a wildflower meadow, red clover is a valuable and easy-to-grow plant that has a lot to offer.


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