RED CLOVER (Trifolium pratense)

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and White Clover (T. repens) are among the most widespread of our native plants. Since prehistoric times they have been cultivated as an important constituent of grazed grassland, providing nutritious food. They are perennial. The red clover is hairy, growing variably low or tall; the slender pointed leaflets often bear a whitish crescent. The white clover on the other hand is a sprawler, practically hairless, and the leaflets, also with a whitish mark, are more rounded. The flowerheads of both are globular, the red ones usually unstalked, the white ones long-stalked.

Children pull the flowers (especially the white ones) out of the heads and suck them for a bead of honey (“bee-bread”). To find clovers with four or even five leaflets has long been considered lucky, but ideally they must be discovered by accident, and not bought from some retailer!

Red Clover in abundance
(alongside footpath as shown on map)

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Text by George Metcalfe. Photos by Colin Wootton.