Trifolium pratense (red clover)
Trifolium pratense flowering head (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)
Trifolium pratense L.
Very common species. Not considered to be threatened.
Wet and dry grassland, woodland, forest margins, field borders and paths, widely planted as pasture.
Fodder for livestock, soil improvement, attracting insects, honey production, medicinal.
Generally recognised as safe (US Food & Drug Administration). However, caution is advised in some instances - more information below.
About this species
Commonly known as red clover in many parts of the English speaking world, Trifolium pratense is extensively grown as a forage crop for pasturage, hay and green manure, and is reported to be excellent for livestock and poultry. The species is a nitrogen-fixer and has long been used in crop rotation systems to enrich the soil. Several novel varieties and subspecies of the plant have been described, but its infraspecific (within the species) classification is complex. Red clover has been widely used in folk medicine for conditions ranging from athlete’s foot to constipation. An extract of the flowers has been used for cancerous ulcers and corns. Red clover contains isoflavones and a herbal product sold in tablet form is taken by women during and after the menopause.