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Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Red clover is grown widely across the world as a forage crop for livestock and poultry and has also been used in folk medicine.
Trifolium pratense

Trifolium pratense flowering head (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Trifolium pratense L.

Common name: 

red clover

Conservation status: 

Very common species. Not considered to be threatened.


Wet and dry grassland, woodland, forest margins, field borders and paths, widely planted as pasture.

Key Uses: 

Fodder for livestock, soil improvement, attracting insects, honey production, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

Generally recognised as safe (US Food & Drug Administration). However, caution is advised in some instances - more information below.


Leguminosae/Fabaceae - Papilionoideae
Genus: Trifolium

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.


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