Latin Name: Trifolium repens
Description: A creeping or erect herb. It keeps growing from year to year. It grows 20 cm high. The stems are creeping and hairless and root at the nodes. The leaves have 3 leaflets. The leaflets can be oval or heart shaped. They have a dent in at the ends. They are hairless. They are on long stalks and usually have a white band. The flowers are white and in a round head. It is on a stalk that is longer than the leaves. The pods are narrowly oblong. They are 4-5 mm long. There are 2-5 seeds.
Notes: Shamrock, the traditional Irish symbol, which according to legend was coined by Saint Patrick for the Holy Trinity, is commonly associated with clover, though sometimes with Oxalis species, which are also trifoliate (i.e., they have three leaves).
Clovers occasionally have leaves with four leaflets, instead of the usual three. These four-leaf clovers, like other rarities, are considered lucky. Clovers can also have five, six, or more leaves, but these are rarer. The record for most leaves is 56, set on 10 May 2009. This beat the 21-leaf clover, a record set in June 2008 by the same man, who had also held the prior record Guinness World Record of 18.
A common idiom is “to be (live) in clover”, meaning to live a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity. This originally referred to the fact that clover is fattening to cattle.
Edibility Rating out of 5: 3
Medicinal Rating out of 5: 2
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked, harvested before the plant comes into flower and are used in salads, soups etc. They can also be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach. The leaves are best cooked. Flowers and seed pods are dried, ground into powder and used as a flour or sprinkled on cooked foods such as boiled rice. Very wholesome and nutritious. The young flowers can also be used in salads. Root – cooked. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc. Dried flowering heads are a tea substitute.
Warnings: This plant has been known to cause problems for grazing animals,and might be associated with the climate in which the plant is growing.
Medicinal Uses: Antirheumatic; Antiscrophulatic; Depurative; Detergent; Ophthalmic; Tonic.
Medicinal Information: The plant is antirheumatic, antiscrophulatic, depurative, detergent and tonic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, fevers and leucorrhoea. A tincture of the leaves is applied as an ointment to gout. An infusion of the flowers has been used as an eyewash.
Other Uses: Green manure.
The plant makes a good green manure, it is useful for over-wintering, especially in a mixture with Lolium perenne. Produces a good bulk. It is a host to ‘clover rot’ however, so should not be used too frequently. It can be undersown with cereals or with tomatoes in a greenhouse (sow the seed before planting the tomatoes). Fairly deep rooting but not very fast growing. A good fast ground-cover plant for a sunny position.