Clover (Trifolium)

Clover is a wild herb

Image - Flickr / Ferran Turmo Gort

Clover is a herb that sprouts and grows very fast, two reasons why it is not usually wanted in a garden, nor in plant pots. If we are careless, it invades all the space that is available, which prevents our crops from growing. But despite its bad reputation, we have found very interesting uses for it.

Often when we see clover we react by pulling it out of the ground. Well, maybe it's time to give them a try. Next you will know everything about him.

Origin and characteristics of clover

The herbs that we know by the name of clover or clovers belong to the genus Trifolium, and are leguminous herbs (that is, of the Fabaceae family) that grow in temperate regions of practically the whole world, except Australia. Its name, Trifolium, means three leaves in Latin, and refers to the leaves which are usually three although sometimes more, as it happens to the four-leaf clover.

These leaves are rounded, small and usually green in color., although there are species that have a dark red color. Its flowers arise from stems that can be spike or umbel-shaped, and are yellow, white or even purple depending on the variety. Clover blooms in spring-summer, and when its flowers are pollinated they produce fruit.

The fruits are oblong shaped valves that open on one side and contain a maximum of three very small seeds. When they fall to the ground, if they find moisture and the temperatures are mild or warm, they will not take more than a few days to germinate. Soon after they will be adults, and will have developed a very long superficial root system.

Main species

There are an estimated 250 species of clover, but the best known are the following:

  • trifolium alexandrinum: it is known as the Alexandria clover and it is an annual herb that reaches a height of up to 50 centimeters. The flowers are yellowish or cream in color, and sprout from the stem itself.
  • Trifolium alpinum: it is a perennial cespitose herb, which does not usually exceed 5 centimeters in height. It has pink or purple flowers of about two centimeters.
  • trifolium arvense: it is known as hare's foot, and it is a tomentose annual plant that can reach 35 centimeters in height. It has inflorescences with a more or less cylindrical shape, reddish in color.
  • Campestre trfolium: It is called golden clover, field clover or country clover, and it is an annual herb 30 centimeters high that produces flowers of an intense yellow color.
  • Trifolium fragiferum: known as strawberry clover or strawberry clover, it is a perennial herb that reaches 45 centimeters in height. Its inflorescences are rounded and pink in color. See file.
  • trifolium glomeratum: Agglomerated clover is an annual plant that grows between 10 and 40 centimeters in height. Its flowers are grouped in ball-shaped inflorescences, and are whitish.
  • trifolium hirtum: It is an annual herb that grows up to 40 centimeters in height, with pink or purple flower heads.
  • trifolium incarnatum: known as scarlet clover or Italian clover, it is a herbaceous plant with an annual cycle that can reach between 20 centimeters and half a meter in height. The flowers appear in cylindrical inflorescences and are red.
  • trifolium lappaceum: it is an annual herb with stems up to 45 centimeters high, the inflorescences are rounded, and have pink flowers.
  • Trifolium pratense: it is the red or violet clover, a perennial herb that can exceed half a meter in height, reaching up to 100 centimeters. It has pink flowers grouped in globose inflorescences. See file.
  • trifolium repens: it is known as white clover, since its flowers are of that color. It is perennial and grows by crawling on the ground. It does not exceed 10 centimeters in height. See file.
  • trifolium scabrum: It is known as rough clover and is an annual herb that reaches 25 centimeters in height. The flowers are white.
  • trifolium stellatum: it is an annual herb about 35 centimeters high covered by numerous hairs, even in the inflorescence. The flowers are reddish and star-shaped.
  • Trifolium striatum: it is an annual herb about 60 centimeters high that produces ovoid pink inflorescences.
  • Trifolium subterranum: it is an annual plant known as underground clover. It reaches 5 centimeters in height at most, and has white flowers.

What is the name of the 4-leaf clover?

4 leaf clover is rare

The 4-leaf clover, also called lucky clover, it is a normal clover that has undergone either a genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene, or a developmental problem caused by local conditions in which it grows.

But if we find this clover beautiful, we have to know that there are people who are dedicated to growing them in specialized greenhouses, giving them a specific fertilizer that favors this mutation. And they even make five leaf clovers.

Now, what is the record? Clover leaves can have many leaves. The normal thing is that they have 3 and sometimes 4, but in Japan, one was found with 56. It was in Hanamaki (Japan), on May 10, 2009 and the lucky man is called Shigeo Obara, a man who loves to study clovers. Of course, he entered the Guinness record.

Clovers can have many leaves

Image - Wikimedia / 8 leaf-clover

What is the meaning of the 4 leaf clover?

Each of these leaves has a meaning, according to popular beliefs: one symbolizes faith, another love, another hope and another luck. In some cultures, on the other hand, they symbolize health, love, money and fame.

The 3-leaf clover symbolizes hope, love and faith. Some believe that it serves as an amulet.

Clover uses

Clover is a herb that almost always used as fodder, but as we have seen before, there are species with very beautiful flowers, so it can be interesting to grow them in pots. What's more, it is also used as an edible and medicinal plant.

Clover benefits

  • As an edible plant: provides magnesium, potassium and calcium. It can be consumed as a vegetable in salads for example, or as an infusion.
  • As a medicinal plant: can help relieve symptoms of colds, inflammations, and stop diarrhea.

How is it grown?

Clovers are fast growing annual herbs

It is a herb that has to be sown outdoors and in a sunny area during spring. Ideally, it should be in a seedling tray with universal substrate (for sale here) for example, in order to put one or two seeds in each hole. In this way, you will have better control, and the subsequent transplant will be much easier. You do not have to cover them with much earth; just a thin layer so they are not so exposed to sunlight.

Go watering every time the soil dries up, more or less a couple of times a week. Do it by the tray or plate method, this way the seeds will stay in place. These will germinate after a few days; generally in less than a week. You will see that its growth is rapid, so you will have to plant them in individual pots that measure about 8,5cm or 10,5cm in diameter as these (They may look large, but remember that clover roots are long.) And then keep watering.

They do not require special care. The only thing, water as we have said, and plant them in larger pots when the roots come out through the holes. It is preferable to keep them there, in containers, since if they are put on the ground and we are careless, they can invade the entire garden.

What do you think of the clover?

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