Red clover: Plant profile
Red clover, Purple Clover, Trefoil, Meadow Clover, Cow Clover, Seamair Dhearg
Native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa and naturalised around the world. Distributed throughout the UK and Ireland.
Where to find Red Clover
Lawns, pastures, roadsides and meadows.
When to find Red Clover
Flowers late spring to early autumn and leaves spring.
How to identify Red Clover
Red Clover is a low growing herbaceous perennial. The leaves are trifoliate, which means there are three leaflets opposing each other on one stem. The leaves are also oval and green with a white or pale green v-shape. The flower heads are round, composed of small tubular flowers that are purple in colour.
Red Clover lookalikes
Other Clover species (Trifolium sp.) are similar, such as White Clover (Trifolium repens), which has similar leaves but white flowers, or Alsike Clover (Trifolium hybridum).
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis Acetosella) can look similar, but it has heart shaped leaves and the leaves are more vibrant green.
All about Red Clover
Clover is an herbaceous low growing perennial easily recognisable by their mid-green trifoliate leaves with a characteristic pale v-shaped mark. The flowers are made up of a number of tiny individual florets and are purple, despite its name. The seeds, which are just like tiny peas, are found at the base of the flowers.
Bees and butterflies are attracted in numbers to the tiny round flowers that grow amongst the long lush grass, with the promise of their rich sweet nectar. Even children used to suck the base of the flower to appreciate this little drop of sweet nectar released by the heat of the sun.
Medicinal properties of Red Clover
Red clover is an herb with a long history of medicinal usage, mainly taken for cough, skin complaints and menopausal symptoms.
The flowers can be applied externally for skin conditions such as acne, burns, eczema, psoriasis and syrup is ideal for stubborn coughs, sinusitis or bronchitis.
The plant contains isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens. Those are compounds similar to the female hormone estrogen.
Culinary use and recipes with Red Clover
Both leaves and flowers are edible. The blossoms have a gentle and sweet taste with a hint of bean flavour when eaten raw.
Break up the flower heads and sprinkle the blossoms into salads. They are also a good addition in baking and look beautiful as a garnish.
Safe foraging of Red Clover
The leaves are edible but may cause bloating.
Do not consume if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ecological importance of Red Clover
Red Clover provides nitrogen to the soil, protecting it from erosion.
The flowers of Red Clover are a source of food for pollinating insects, such as the common carder bee, honeybee and the red-tailed bumblebee.