According to Kew Species Profiles[KSP]
- General Description
Red clover is grown widely across the world as a forage crop for livestock and poultry and has also been used in folk medicine.
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.
- Species Profile
Geography and distribution
Native to Europe and Northern Asia. Widely cultivated as a forage plant across the world. Full distribution information is available from the International Legume Database and Information Service (ILDIS).
Overview: A perennial, sometimes biennial herb.
Leaves: Leaves with three leaflets, basal leaves with a long leaf stalk, upper leaves with a shorter or no stalk. A pair of stipules at the leaf base partly clasp the leaf stalk but have free tapering tips.
Flowers: The flowering head is short-stalked or stalkless and comprises many flowers which are about 10-15 mm long and a rose-purple colour (there is also a creamy-white form). The bell-shaped calyx is characteristically 10-veined and has 5 linear lobes (often referred to as calyx teeth); the petals are about twice the calyx length.
Fruits: The small oblong-ovoid fruit pod is retained within the withering flower and opens to shed the seeds.
Threats and conservation
Not considered to be threatened, hence no conservation measures are needed, but red clover is attacked by many fungi, sometimes causing serious losses.
Red clover is used as fodder for livestock and poultry. It is planted in pastures with grass, or fed to animals as hay and silage. It is also used as a cover crop and green manure for soil improvement; it suppresses weeds and boosts nitrogen levels in the soil while the root system improves the soil structure.
Red clover attracts a variety of insects and is useful for improving the biodiversity of agricultural systems, and can be used as a bee plant for honey production.
A tea of the flowering heads and various other topical preparations of the plant have been used for medicinal purposes in Europe. 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.
Red clover is generally recognised as safe (US Food & Drug Administration). However, caution should be exercised in taking isoflavone-containing herbal products from Trifolium pratense if some prescription medicines are being taken, particularly in some hormone therapies and for blood-thinning. Red clover products should also be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.
A collection of Trifolium pratense seeds is held in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.
Search Kew's Seed Information Database for further information on Trifolium pratense seeds
Grown from seed and sometimes planted with grass seed; clover-grass hay cures more rapidly than pure clover hay, and produces more hay per hectare. Animals are more likely to bloat on pure clover hay than clover-grass hay. Red clover and red clover-grass pastures can be grazed or cut green and fed to livestock and poultry. Red clover is one of the better legume species for renovating old pastures and is widely used in crop rotation systems.
The flowers are bee-pollinated and a seed crop can be harvested 25 to 30 days after full bloom by which time the flower heads have turned black.
- Wet and dry grassland, woodland, forest margins, field borders and paths, widely planted as pasture.
- Very common species. Not considered to be threatened.
Generally recognised as safe (US Food & Drug Administration). However, caution is advised in some instances - more information below.
Afghanistan, Albania, Albania, Algeria, Altay, Altay, Austria, Austria, Azores, Azores, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bulgaria, Buryatiya, Buryatiya, Canary Is., Central European Rus, Corse, Corse, Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Denmark, East European Russia, East Himalaya, Finland, Finland, France, France, Føroyar, Føroyar, Germany, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Greece, Hungary, Hungary, Iceland, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Ireland, Irkutsk, Italy, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Krasnoyarsk, Krym, Madeira, Madeira, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Norway, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Poland, Portugal, Portugal, Romania, Sardegna, Sardegna, Sicilia, South European Russi, Spain, Spain, Sweden, Sweden, Switzerland, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Tadzhikistan, Transcaucasus, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan, Tuva, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan, West Himalaya, West Himalaya, West Siberia, West Siberia, Yugoslavia
Alabama, Aleutian Is., Amur, Antipodean Is., Argentina Northeast, Argentina South, Bahamas, Bermuda, Brazil South, Cape Provinces, Chatham Is., Chile Central, Chile Central, Chile South, China North-Central, China North-Central, China South-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, China Southeast, Chita, Chita, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ethiopia, Falkland Is., Falkland Is., Guatemala, Illinois, Jawa, Kamchatka, Kermadec Is., Khabarovsk, Korea, Kuril Is., KwaZulu-Natal, Magadan, Manchuria, Manchuria, Mexico Southwest, Nepal, New Mexico, New South Wales, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Northern Provinces, Peru, Primorye, Puerto Rico, Queensland, Sakhalin, South Australia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Taiwan, Tasmania, Tennessee, Uruguay, Venezuela, Venezuela, Victoria, Western Australia, Xinjiang, Xinjiang, Yakutskiya
- Red clover
Trifolium pratense L. appears in other Kew resources:
Herbarium Catalogue (42 records)
|Date Identified||Reference||Herbarium Specimen||Type Status|
|Sep 20, 1991||Silva, J.M. , Brazil||K000931824|
|Des Moulins [s.n.], France||K000999651|
|Salzmann, P. [s.n.], Corse||K000999652|
|Furse, P. , Iran||K000744152|
|Lindsay, N. , Iran||K000744153|
|Cowan , Iran||K000744154|
|Cowan , Iran||K000744155|
|Sayer , Iran||K000744157|
|Crisp, P. , Iran||K000744158|
|Rechinger, K.H. , Iran||K000744159|
|Rechinger, K.H. , Iran||K000744160|
|Guest , Iraq||K000744161|
|Gillett, J.B. , Iraq||K000744162|
|Rawi, A. , Iraq||K000744163|
|Rawi, A. , Iraq||K000744164|
|Rawi, A. , Iraq||K000744165|
|Rawi, A. , Iraq||K000744166|
|Springfield, H.W , Iraq||K000744167|
|Omar, S , Iraq||K000744168|
|Cope, T.A. [RBG 447], Great Britain||K000914220|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764707|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764708|
|Furse, P. , Turkey||K000764712|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764714|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764715|
|Davis, P.H. [D. 30473], Turkey||K000764716|
|Davis, P.H. [D. 31597], Turkey||K000764718|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764719|
|Davis, P.H. [D. 29517], Turkey||K000764720|
|Furse, P. , Turkey||K000764722|
|Davis, P.H. [D. 32068], Turkey||K000764723|
|Hennipman, E , Turkey||K000764725|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764726|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764727|
|Davis, P.H. , Turkey||K000764728|
|Bazargan-Arazm , Iran||K000764730|
|Archibald, J.C. , Iran||K000764731|
|Gilliat-Smith, B. , Iran||K000764733|
|Bowles , Iran||K000764734|
|Bowles , Iran||K000764735|
|Cowan , Iran||K000764738|
|Furse, P. , Iran||K000764739|
First published in Sp. Pl.: 768 (1753)
-  Bailey, C. & al. (2015) Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee . University of Tennessee press.
-  (2014) Australian Plant Census (APC) . Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria. http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/index.html.
-  Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014) Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF) . DESIGNPOST.
-  (2012) Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 4: 1-431. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
-  (2012) Phytotaxonomy 12: 33-56
-  Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012) Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies) , ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
-  (2011) Norrlinia 24: 1-166
-  (2010) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 119: 1-970. Missouri Botanical Garden.
-  (2008) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348. Missouri Botanical Garden.
-  Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008) Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela . Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.
-  (2003) Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
-  Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003) Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  (2002) Botanical Journal of Scotland 54: 153-190
-  Jørgensen, P.M. & León-Yánes, S. (eds.) (1999) Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador . Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
-  Lee, W.T. (1996) Lineamenta Florae Koreae . Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok.
-  Yakovlev, G.P., Sytin, A.K. & Roskov, Y.R. (1996) Legumes of Northern Eurasia. A checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  (1993) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 45: i-xl, 1-1286. Missouri Botanical Garden.
-  Lock, J.M. (1989) Legumes of Africa a check-list . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  (1984) Flora Iranica 157: 1-499. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien.
-  (1974) Flora of Iraq 3: 1-662. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
-  (1946) Fieldiana Botany New Series 24(5): 1-502. Field Museum of Natural History.
-  (2014) Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 8: 271-303
-  Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014) Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide , ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
-  (2012) Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192
-  (2011) Darwiniana 49: 139-247
-  Idárraga-Piedrahita, A., Ortiz, R.D.C., Callejas Posada, R. & Merello, M. (eds.) (2011) Flora de Antioquia: Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares 2: 1-939. Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín.
-  Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011) Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama . Botanical reseach institute of Texas.
-  (2011) Norrlinia 24: 1-166
-  Flora of China Editorial Committee (2010) Flora of China 10: 1-642. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis).
-  (2009) Muelleria 27: 149-170
-  (2009) Turczaninowia 12(1-2): 17-40
-  (2009) Willdenowia 39: 145-159
-  Gremmen, N. & Halbertsma, R.L. (2009) Alien plants and their impact on Tristan da Cunha 2: 1-307. Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP).
-  (2008) Encephalartos. Journal of the Cycad Society of South Africa 94: 31-35
-  (2008) Gayana. Botánica 65: 153-197
-  (2007) Austrobaileya 7: 577-639
-  Barnes, J., Anderson, L. A., Phillipson, D. (2007). Herbal Medicines (3rd Edn.). Pharmaceutical Press
-  Managing Cover Crops Profitability 3rd Edition (2007). Sustainable Agriculture Network, Beltsville.
-  Lewis, G., Schrire, B. Mackinder, B. & Lock, J. M. (eds) (2005). Legumes of the World. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  Lock, J.M. & Ford, C.S. (2004) Legumes of Malesia a Check-List . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1993) Flora Europaea ed. 2, 1: 1-581. Cambridge University Press.
-  (1989 publ. 1990) Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 3: 1-659. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
-  (1989) Flora Zambesiaca 10(3): 1-231. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  (1988) Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. Botany division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch.
-  Lust, J. B. (1986). The Herb Book. Bantam, Toronto.
-  Duke, J. A. (1981). Handbook of Legumes of World Economic Importance. Plenum Press, New York and London.
-  Hultén, E.O.G. (1960) Flora of the Aleutian Islands and westernmost Alaska Peninsula: with notes on the flora of Commander Islands , ed. 2: 1-376. Weinheim : J. Cramer ; New York : Hafner Pub. Co..
-  Britton, N. (1918) Flora of Bermuda . Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
International Plant Names Index
The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
[A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
Kew Science Photographs
[D] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
[E] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
[F] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
[G] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0