Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Western Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Trifolium pratense L.
- Family: Pea (Leguminosoe)
- Flowering: May-October
- Field Marks: This is the only perennial clover that has pink to reddish purple flowers that are at least 1/2 inch long and are sessile.
- Habitat: In a wide variety of moist or dry habitats, including old fields, pastures, roadsides, and other disturbed, open areas.
- Habit: Spreading to upright perennial herb with a taproot.
- Stems: Spreading to upright, branched, up to 3 feet long, usually with a few to many soft hairs, sometimes hollow.
- Leaves: Alternate, divided into 3 leaflets; each leaflet obovate to elliptic, up to 2 1/2 inches long, more or less hairy on both surfaces, often with an inverted V visible on the upper surface.
- Flowers: Sessile, up to 80 in a head; each head spherical, up to 1 inch across, subtended by a trifoliate bract; heads sessile or on stalks up to 1 inch long.
- Sepals: 5, green, united to form a tube, the tube up to 1/4 inch long, smooth or sparsely hairy, one of the 5 lobes longer than the other 4.
- Petals: United to form a pea-shaped flower, pink to reddish purple, 1/2 to nearly 1 inch long.
- Stamens: 10, with 1 of them separate from the other 9.
- Pistils: Ovary superior.
- Fruits: Pods ovoid, with 1-2 seeds; seeds asymmetrical, yellow-brown or yellow-green, up to 1/10 inch long.
- Notes: This species was introduced from Europe and is a good pasture plant as well as a species that can bind the soil and add nitrogen to it.
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