Red Clover

Red_Clover_jpgNative Americans used Red Clover infusions (medicine prepared by steeping flower or leaves in liquid without boiling) for fever and Bright’s disease. A cold infusion of the blossoms was taken by women at menopause.  A flower decoction (medicine prepared by boiling part of the plant) was taken as “blood medicine” and a teaspoonful of powdered flowers was mixed in boiling water and taken for cancer. Today we recognize clover has estrogenic activity (isoflavonoids) and consuming large quantities can cause infertility in sheep.  The 1998 edition of the Physician’s Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine notes that Red Clover us used internally for coughs and respiratory conditions.  Externally, it is used to treat chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.Although the clovers are not among the choicest of wild foods, clovers are rich in protein.  The flowerheads and tender young leaves can be eaten if soaked for several hours in salty water or boiled 5-10 minutes.  The dried flowerheads make a healthful tea, usually mixed with other teas.  The dried flowerheads can also be ground into a nutritious flour.

OtherCommonName:

Purple Cover, Trefoil, Wild Clover

ScientificName:

Trifolium pratense

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Naturalized. Native of Europe

LifeSpan:

Short-lived perennial

PlantHeight:

6 inch to 2 feet

FruitingTime:

Late June to September

Distribution:

Throughout North America ~ Statewide in NJ

FloweringTime:

Late May to September

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Leaves 3 oval leaflets with distinct V shaped white marking ~ Basal leaf rosette ~ Flower reddish, magenta or purple ~ Fruit pod is oval, one-seeded and thin-skinned ~ Seed oblong to oval, yellow to brownish or violet