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Zigzag Clover

Trifolium medium

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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, 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
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
A dense, globular flowerhead, up to 3.5cm across. Very similar to Red Clover except Zigzag Clover has darker, more spreading and flatter flowers. The flowers of Zigzag Clover are also much longer stalked.
Egg-shaped pea-like pods.
Zigzag Clover has got alternate, stalked leaves that have stipules. The stipules are much narrower than those of the very similar-looking Red Clover. The Zigzag Clover grows in larger patches and often has slightly zigzagged stems. There are a few other noteworthy differences between Zigzag Clover and Red Clover. The Zigzag Clover has darker green and narrower leaves with less obvious pale markings on them. The upper leaves are normally well-stalked and the stipules are not bristle-pointed, as with Red Clover.
Other Names:
Alsike, Alsike Clover, Clover Trefoil, Cow Clover, Cow Grass, Mammoth Clover, Marl Grass, Meadow Clover, Pea-vine Clover.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Trifolium medium, also known as alsike clover or alsike, 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 white flowers that bloom in the summer. It grows to be about 60 cm (2 feet) 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 medium is also used medicinally for its astringent and expectorant properties. It is also used as a source of nectar for bees.


Trifolium medium, also known as Zigzag Clover, is a beautiful and versatile plant that can be a great addition to your garden. This species of clover is native to Europe and Asia, but can now be found in many parts of the world. Its distinctive zigzag stem, green leaves and delicate white or pink flowers make it a great ornamental plant. However, its beauty is not its only benefit.


  1. Soil improvement: Zigzag clover is a great soil improver. It has a deep taproot that helps to break up compacted soil and improves soil structure. In addition, it also adds nitrogen to the soil, making it a great plant for areas where soil fertility is low.

  2. Attracts pollinators: The delicate white or pink flowers of the Zigzag clover are a great source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. This makes it an important plant for promoting biodiversity and supporting a healthy ecosystem.

  3. Food source for wildlife: The leaves and flowers of the Zigzag clover are an important food source for a variety of wildlife, including rabbits, deer, and many species of birds.

  4. Groundcover: The dense foliage of the Zigzag clover makes it an ideal groundcover for areas of your garden where you want to reduce weed growth and conserve moisture.

  5. Low maintenance: This plant is very low maintenance and can grow in a variety of soils, including poor or dry soil. It is also highly resistant to disease and pests, making it a great choice for gardeners who want a plant that is easy to care for.

  6. Medicinal Properties: Zigzag clover has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine. The leaves and flowers of the plant are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and have been used to treat a variety of ailments including coughs, colds, and digestive problems.

  7. Erosion Control: The deep taproot of the Zigzag clover makes it an effective plant for controlling erosion, particularly on sloping terrain. The root system helps to stabilize the soil and prevent it from washing away, making it a great choice for gardeners who live in areas prone to erosion.

  8. Livestock Forage: Zigzag clover is a valuable forage plant for livestock, and is often grown as a cover crop in fields. Its high nitrogen content makes it a nutritious food source for cattle, sheep, and other livestock, and it is particularly valuable for dairy farmers as it helps to increase milk production.

  9. Drought Tolerance: Zigzag clover is highly drought-tolerant and is able to withstand long periods of dry weather. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who live in areas with low rainfall, or who are looking for plants that are more water-efficient.

  10. Weed Suppression: The dense foliage of the Zigzag clover can effectively suppress weed growth. When planted closely together, it can form a dense mat that can outcompete weeds, helping to keep your garden looking neat and tidy.

  11. Versatile Use: The Zigzag clover is a very versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways in your garden. It can be grown as a groundcover, planted in a border, used in a wildflower meadow, or incorporated into a vegetable garden. Its ability to adapt to different growing conditions and its low maintenance requirements make it a great choice for gardeners with a variety of needs and preferences.

  12. Cut Flowers: The delicate white or pink flowers of the Zigzag clover can be used in cut flower arrangements, adding a touch of beauty and charm to your home. The long stems and delicate blooms make them an ideal choice for bouquets and other arrangements.

  13. Attractive to beneficial insects: In addition to being a food source for pollinators like bees, the Zigzag clover is also attractive to other beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. These insects help to keep harmful pests under control, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and promoting a healthy ecosystem.

  14. Nitrogen-fixing: As a legume, the Zigzag clover has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil. This helps to improve soil fertility and support the growth of other plants, making it a great companion plant for many garden crops.

  15. Improves soil structure: The deep taproot of the Zigzag clover helps to break up compacted soil and improve soil structure. This allows water and air to penetrate the soil more easily, promoting healthy root development and reducing the risk of soil-borne diseases.

  16. Edible: While not commonly grown for food, the leaves and flowers of the Zigzag clover are edible and can be used as a green leafy vegetable in salads or as a garnish. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are rich in vitamins and minerals.

In conclusion, the Zigzag clover is a highly valuable plant for both ornamental and functional purposes. Whether you are looking to improve soil quality, attract beneficial insects, or add some beauty to your garden, this versatile plant has much to offer. Its low maintenance requirements and adaptability to different growing conditions make it a great choice for gardeners of all levels of experience.


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