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Sea Clover

Trifolium squamosum

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, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, 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, saltmarshes, seaside, wasteland.

Pink, 5 petals
Compact pale pink, oval flowerheads, up to 2cm across. Flowers each measure about 7 to 9mm across. There are a pair of leaves at the base of each flowerhead. Similar in appearance to a small Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).
The fruit is a single-seeded pod. In fruit the teeth of the sepals spread outwards.
An erect annual flower with trefoil leaves. The leaflets are toothed. Narrow stipules. Rarely found growing inland.
Other Names:
Purple Clover, Scaled Clover.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Trifolium squamosum, also known as scaled 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 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 squamosum is also used medicinally for its astringent and expectorant properties.


Sea clover, Trifolium squamosum, is a unique species of clover that is native to the western coast of North America. It is known for its ability to thrive in sandy coastal habitats, making it a valuable plant for coastal restoration and erosion control projects.

One of the key features of sea clover is its succulent leaves, which help it retain water in its dry coastal environment. The leaves are blue-green in color and are arranged in a distinctive circular pattern. Sea clover also produces small pink or white flowers that attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies.

In addition to its ecological importance, sea clover also has cultural significance. It was a staple food source for indigenous people in California and is still used in traditional medicine by many native communities. The plant's leaves and stems can be consumed fresh or dried and are high in vitamins and minerals.

Despite its importance, sea clover faces numerous threats, including habitat loss, trampling by humans, and competition from invasive species. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this unique plant, including the creation of protected habitats, restoration of degraded areas, and the introduction of sustainable harvest practices.

Sea clover is a valuable and fascinating plant species that is essential to the health of coastal ecosystems and the cultures of indigenous communities. With continued conservation efforts, it is hoped that this species will continue to thrive for generations to come.

Sea clover is a tough and hardy plant, able to withstand harsh coastal conditions such as salt spray, high winds, and sand dunes. This makes it an ideal plant for coastal restoration projects, where it can help to stabilize dunes, prevent soil erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife. In addition, sea clover is able to fix nitrogen from the air, improving soil fertility and supporting the growth of other plant species in the area.

Another important aspect of sea clover is its role in supporting the local food chain. Its flowers provide an important source of nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and its leaves and stems are an important source of food for a variety of insects, including caterpillars. This in turn supports the populations of larger predators such as birds, who feed on the insects.

Despite its importance, sea clover is facing several threats to its survival. One of the biggest threats is habitat loss, as coastal development and human activities have reduced the size and quality of the plant's habitat. In addition, sea clover is vulnerable to competition from invasive plant species, which can outcompete it for resources and space.

To help protect sea clover and its habitat, conservation organizations are working to promote sustainable land-use practices, restore degraded habitats, and control invasive species. In addition, educational and outreach programs are being developed to raise awareness about the importance of sea clover and the need for its protection.

Sea clover is a valuable and fascinating plant species that plays a critical role in coastal ecosystems and provides important benefits to local communities. With continued conservation efforts, it is hoped that this species will be protected for generations to come.

Another important aspect of sea clover is its cultural significance. The plant has been used for centuries by indigenous communities along the western coast of North America for a variety of purposes, including food, medicine, and basket weaving. In many indigenous cultures, sea clover is considered a sacred plant, and its leaves and stems are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the use of sea clover for food and medicine. As people become more aware of the health benefits of this plant, it is being used in a growing number of food and supplement products. In addition, sea clover is being recognized as a valuable crop for sustainable agriculture, as it is drought-tolerant, requires little maintenance, and is easy to grow.

Despite its growing popularity, the harvest of sea clover must be done in a sustainable manner, to ensure the long-term health of the species and its habitats. This requires the development of sustainable harvest practices, including the use of selective harvesting methods and the establishment of protected areas where the plant can grow undisturbed.

In conclusion, sea clover is a versatile and valuable plant that has a rich cultural history, provides important ecological benefits, and has the potential to play a significant role in sustainable agriculture. To ensure the survival of this species for future generations, it is important that we continue to promote sustainable land-use practices, protect its habitats, and promote its responsible use for food, medicine, and other purposes.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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