Open the Advanced Search

Hop Trefoil

Trifolium campestre

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


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, 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, Red Clover, 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:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, lawns, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Pale or creamy yellow flower heads, packed with 10 to 30 individual flowers. They are round to oval in shape and up to 15mm across. Flowers turn pale brown later on in the season.
Pea-like pods which contain brown seeds. Black Medic is similar to Hop Trefoil but has black seeds.
Like all Clovers and Trefoils, the leaves are divided into 3 leaflets. The leaflets are heart-shaped, similar to Black Medic and Lesser Trefoil, however they are larger. Unlike most other Clover species, the Hop Trefoil has a stalked centre leaflet. The leaflet margins are slightly serrated.
Other Names:
Field Big Hop Clover, Field Clover, Large Hop Clover, Lesser Hop Clover, Lesser Yellow Trefoil, Low Hop Clover, Low Hop Trefoil, Pinnate Hop Clover, Smaller Hop Clover, Yellow Clover.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Trifolium campestre, also known as field clover, is a small, low-growing perennial herb in the pea family (Fabaceae) native to Europe. It is commonly found in grasslands, pastures, and along roadsides. The plant has small, white or pink flowers and trifoliate leaves. It is often used as a forage crop for livestock and as a cover crop for soil conservation. It is a short-lived perennial, and it is known for its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, it can also be used in a mixture with other clovers to extend the period of forage production. It is also a popular forage for honey bees and other pollinators.


Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre), also known as field clover, is a plant species in the pea family (Fabaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia and is widely distributed throughout the world as a weed in fields and meadows. Despite its common status, hop trefoil is an important plant in both the natural world and in human culture.

In the wild, hop trefoil is an important source of food for many species of insects, including bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. The plant's small, pink-purple flowers are rich in nectar and provide a vital source of nutrition for these insects. This makes hop trefoil a crucial part of many ecosystems, as it helps to support the survival and reproduction of other species.

Hop trefoil is also valued for its medicinal properties. Throughout history, people have used various parts of the plant to treat a range of health problems, from digestive issues to skin conditions. Some of the active compounds in hop trefoil, such as flavonoids and isoflavones, are believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of hop trefoil, some studies have suggested that it may be helpful in treating certain conditions, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal significance, hop trefoil has a long and fascinating cultural history. In many cultures, the plant was believed to have supernatural powers, and was often used in magic spells and rituals. For example, in medieval Europe, hop trefoil was believed to protect against witches, and was sometimes placed in a horse's shoes to ensure a safe journey. In other cultures, hop trefoil was thought to bring good luck and prosperity, and was often given as a gift to symbolize friendship and love.

Despite its importance, hop trefoil is often considered a weed and is often treated with herbicides. However, there are many good reasons to reconsider this approach. Not only does hop trefoil play a crucial role in supporting ecosystems, but it also has the potential to provide important benefits to human health. Furthermore, many people find the plant's delicate flowers to be aesthetically pleasing, and enjoy seeing it growing in fields and meadows.

Hop trefoil is much more than just a weed. It is a fascinating and important plant with a rich history and a valuable role in the natural world. By appreciating and protecting this species, we can help to conserve a valuable part of our natural heritage and ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and benefits of hop trefoil.

In agriculture, hop trefoil can be used as a cover crop to prevent soil erosion, improve soil fertility, and control weeds. Unlike many other cover crops, hop trefoil is a legume, which means that it is able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to the soil. This can help to improve soil fertility and support the growth of other crops. Additionally, the dense foliage of hop trefoil can help to shade out and suppress weeds, reducing the need for herbicides and other weed control measures.

Another interesting aspect of hop trefoil is its relationship with livestock. The plant is a valuable source of forage for cattle, sheep, and other livestock, and is often used in pasture management to provide additional nutrition for animals. The leaves and stems of hop trefoil are high in protein and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to animal diets. Furthermore, the plant's deep roots can help to improve soil structure and increase soil moisture retention, which can benefit other plants growing in the same area.

Aside from its practical uses, hop trefoil also has a rich cultural history. In many cultures, the plant was believed to have spiritual or magical powers, and was often used in traditional medicines and rituals. For example, in traditional Chinese medicine, hop trefoil was used to treat digestive problems, skin conditions, and respiratory issues. In Europe, the plant was often used in love spells and was believed to bring good luck and happiness. Today, hop trefoil is still widely used in traditional and alternative medicines, and is considered a valuable natural resource.

Hop trefoil is a versatile and fascinating plant that has much to offer both the natural world and human society. Whether you are a farmer looking for a cover crop, a gardener interested in natural medicine, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, hop trefoil is a species that is well worth getting to know. By understanding and appreciating its many benefits, we can help to conserve this important and valuable plant for future generations.

Another important aspect of hop trefoil is its role in the history of botany and horticulture. The plant was one of the first species to be described by the famous Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in his landmark work, "Species Plantarum," published in 1753. This marked the beginning of the modern system of naming and classifying plants, and helped to lay the foundation for modern botany.

Hop trefoil has also played a role in the development of modern horticulture and agriculture. The plant has been cultivated for centuries for use as a cover crop and forage, and has been the subject of extensive breeding and selection efforts. Today, there are many cultivars of hop trefoil available, each with its own unique combination of characteristics, such as improved forage quality, increased resistance to pests and diseases, or enhanced nitrogen-fixing ability.

In addition to its historical and scientific significance, hop trefoil is also a valuable ornamental plant. The plant's delicate pink-purple flowers and lush green foliage make it an attractive addition to any garden or landscape. It is often used in wildflower gardens, meadows, and prairies, and is a popular choice for pollinator gardens, as its flowers provide an important source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and other insects.

Another fascinating aspect of hop trefoil is its role in the ecosystem. The plant is an important host for a wide variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. These insects are crucial for the pollination of other plants, and play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity in ecosystems. By providing a source of food and shelter for these insects, hop trefoil helps to support the health and vitality of ecosystems, making it an important species to conserve.

In conclusion, hop trefoil is much more than just a weed. It is a fascinating and valuable plant that has played a significant role in the history of botany and horticulture, and has many important benefits for the natural world and human society. Whether you are a scientist, a farmer, a gardener, or simply someone who loves the natural world, hop trefoil is a species that is well worth exploring. By understanding and appreciating its many benefits, we can help to conserve this important and valuable plant for future generations.


Video 1: Hop Trefoil filmed in Thorpeness, Suffolk on the 1st July 2022.


Video 2: Hop Trefoil filmed in the Chorley area of Lancashire on the 22nd June 2023.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map