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Rough Clover

Trifolium scabrum

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.
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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, 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
Gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, sea cliffs, seaside.

White, 5 petals
The flowers appear in short-stalked flowerheads. Flowerheads measure 5 to 12mm across and the individual flowers each measure 4 to 7mm across.
The fruit is a single-seeded pod.
A prostrate annual flower with trefoil leaves, downy on both sides. The side veins of the leaves bend backwards.
Other Names:
Rough Purple Clover.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Trifolium scabrum, also known as rough clover or rough 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 30 cm (1 foot) 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 scabrum is also used medicinally for its astringent and expectorant properties.


Rough clover, also known as Trifolium scabrum, is a low-growing, herbaceous plant that is native to Europe and Asia. With its small, white or pink flowers and dark green leaves, this plant is not only attractive but also useful for a variety of purposes.

First and foremost, rough clover is an excellent choice for gardens and meadows as a cover crop. Its deep roots make it an excellent choice for soil improvement and erosion control, and it also adds organic matter to the soil as it grows. This makes rough clover an excellent choice for improving soil health and fertility, making it easier for other plants to grow.

In addition to its soil benefits, rough clover is also a great food source for wildlife. Its nectar attracts a variety of insects, including bees and butterflies, while its leaves and stems are consumed by a variety of mammals and birds.

One of the best things about rough clover is its ability to grow in a variety of conditions. This plant is very resilient and can tolerate drought, cold, and heat, making it an excellent choice for gardens and landscapes in many different regions. Whether you live in a dry desert or a damp coastal area, rough clover is a plant that is likely to thrive.

Finally, rough clover is very low-maintenance. Once established, it requires very little care or attention, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who want a beautiful, low-maintenance garden.

Rough clover is an excellent choice for gardeners looking for a versatile, resilient, and low-maintenance plant. With its deep roots, attractive flowers, and ability to grow in a variety of conditions, rough clover is a plant that is sure to bring a touch of beauty and utility to any garden or meadow.

Rough clover can also be used for forage and pasture purposes. Cattle, sheep, and goats will happily graze on the plant, making it an excellent option for small-scale farmers or homesteaders looking for a natural way to feed their livestock. The plant is also rich in nitrogen, making it an excellent option for improving soil fertility and growing crops.

Another interesting aspect of rough clover is its nitrogen-fixing properties. This means that the plant can convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by other plants. This makes rough clover an excellent companion plant for other crops, as it can help improve soil fertility and increase crop yields.

Rough clover is also an important plant for the environment. The plant's deep roots and vigorous growth help to hold the soil in place, reducing the risk of erosion and soil loss. It also provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including insects, mammals, and birds, helping to maintain biodiversity in the area.

When it comes to planting rough clover, the best time to do so is in the spring or fall. The plant prefers well-drained soils with a neutral pH, but it can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. Once established, rough clover requires very little maintenance, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who want a low-maintenance garden.

Rough clover is a versatile and resilient plant that has many uses, both in the garden and on the farm. Whether you are looking to improve soil health, provide forage for your livestock, or simply add a touch of beauty to your garden, rough clover is a plant that is sure to deliver.

It is also worth noting that rough clover has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, digestive issues, and respiratory problems. In traditional medicine, rough clover has been used as an expectorant, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory. While more research is needed to fully understand the medicinal properties of rough clover, there is evidence to suggest that it may be a useful plant for promoting health and wellness.

In terms of its appearance, rough clover is a low-growing plant that typically reaches a height of 6-12 inches (15-30 cm). The plant has small, white or pink flowers that bloom in the spring and summer, and its dark green leaves are a beautiful contrast to its light-colored flowers. Rough clover is a great choice for ground cover, rock gardens, and borders, and it can also be used in meadows and pastures.

When planting rough clover, it is important to give the plant plenty of room to grow. The plant spreads by runners, so it is important to plant it in an area where it has enough space to spread out. It is also important to plant rough clover in a location that receives full sun or partial shade, as the plant does best in well-lit areas.

In conclusion, rough clover is a versatile, resilient, and beautiful plant that has many uses and benefits. Whether you are looking to improve soil health, provide forage for your livestock, or simply add a touch of beauty to your garden, rough clover is a plant that is sure to deliver. With its low maintenance requirements and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions, rough clover is a plant that is sure to be a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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