red clover

(Trifolium pratense)

Conservation Status
red clover
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Red clover is a perennial forb that rises on multiple stems from a taproot with rhizomes.

The stems are light green, hairy, and branching. They can be nearly erect, ascending, or reclining on the ground with just the tip ascending.

The leaves are alternate and compound, divided into 3 leaflets. The lower leaves are on long, hairy leaf stalks. The upper leaves are on short stalks or on no stalks at all. The leaflets are lance-shaped or egg-shaped, hairless, to 1 long, and ¼ to wide. The margins are finely-toothed or untoothed. The upper leaf surface is silky-hairy and has a pale V-shaped marking.

The inflorescence is several dense, globular, head-like clusters at the end of the stems. The flower heads are ½ to 1 tall and about 1 across. Each head has up to 25 to 80 flowers. There are usually 1 to 3 stalkless leaflets immediately below the flower head.

The flowers are pea-like, with 5 petals organized into a banner, 2 wings, and a keel formed by two petals fused together at the tip. The banner is longer than the wings and the keel. The individual flowers are stalkless. The petals are magenta to pink to nearly white, but never red. They gradually turn darker pink to rose as they age.

The fruit is a seed pod containing 1 or 2 seeds.




1 to 2½


Flower Color


Magenta to pink to nearly white, but never red


Similar Species


Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum) stems are hairless or nearly hairless. The leaflets have no markings on the upper surface and are not indented or pointed at the tip. The petals are pale pink to pinkish-white.

Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum ssp. incarnatum) stems are more hairy. The leaflets have no markings on the upper surface. The petals are crimson red.

White clover (Trifolium repens ssp. repens) is a much smaller plant, 4 to 10 tall. The stems are creeping and they root at the nodes. Flowers and leaves are borne on separate stalks. The leaflets have have a pale, crescent-shaped, not V-shaped, marking on the upper surface. The petals are white or white tinted with pink.


Disturbed sites




May to September


Pests and Diseases




Red clover is an important forage crop. It has been cultivated since the third and fourth centuries.

Red clover is the state flower of Vermont.


Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




Native to Northern Africa, Europe, and Western Asia. Introduced and naturalized. Invasive.




Common and widespread

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  


Fabaceae (legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae  


  Genus Trifolium (clovers)  
  Subgenus Trifolium  
  Section Trifolium  

Subordinate Taxa


Up to seven varieties or subspecies of red clover have been described based on habits, calyces, stipules, and patterns of pubescence. In North American populations there is much intergradation, making determining the variety of some individual plants difficult or impossible.


Trifolium pratense ssp. kotulae

Trifolium pratense ssp. nivale

Trifolium pratense ssp. pratense

Trifolium pratense var. americanum

Trifolium pratense var. frigidum

Trifolium pratense var. luteopurpureum

Trifolium pratense var. maritimum




Trifolium pratense var. frigidum

Trifolium pratense var. sativum


Common Names


peavine clover

purple clover

red clover












A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

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    red clover      


    red clover   red clover  


    red clover   red clover  
    red clover      


    red clover      


    red clover   red clover  



  Trifolium pratense
Susanne Wiik
  Trifolium pratense  

Rødkløver, red clover

  Red Clover
Wez Smith
  Red Clover  

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).

  Trifolium pratense
Matt Lavin
  Trifolium pratense  

Introduced short-lived perennial, stems ascending to erect, less than 70 cm tall, leaflets serrate at least distally, the terminal leaflet is sessile (like the lateral leaflets, which is true of all Trifolium species), flowering head enveloped by stipules of subtending leaves, pod 1-few-seeded, inconspicuous and concealed by the calyx, fruiting head retains the faded dry petals (which is true of all Trifolium species), common in lawns, fields, pastures, introduced as a forage crop.

  Red Clover
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Red Clover  

Trifolium pratense

The State Flower of Vermont

  Trifolium pratense RED CLOVER
Frank Mayfield
  Trifolium pratense RED CLOVER  
  Trifolium pratense (with translation text)

Uploaded on May 16, 2011

More information? Review:
Plants of future (,
GRIN - Taxonomic information (




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Other Videos
  Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) ~ Introduced Species
Wandering Sole TV

Published on Jun 23, 2013

I was quite surprised when I learned that red clover is an introduced species in North America. It is native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa. Red clover is commonly found growing in disturbed soils and this is often where it was deliberately seeded in order to help with erosion control or to enhance the soil fertility of an area (through nitrogen fixation).

  Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense) - 2012-05-05

Published on May 7, 2012

Trifolium pratense (red clover) is a species of clover, native to Europe, Western Asia and northwest Africa.

De rode klaver (Trifolium pratense) is een overblijvende plant uit de vlinderbloemenfamilie (Leguminosae ofwel Fabaceae).




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Afton State Park

Antelope Valley SNA

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Badoura Jack Pine Woodland SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blackhoof River WMA

Blanket Flower Prairie SNA

Blazing Star Prairie Addition Preserve, South Unit

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Brownsville Bluff SNA

Bur Oak WMA

Butterwort Cliffs SNA

Cambria WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Chimney Rock SNA

Chippewa Prairie

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Compass Prairie SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Crystal Spring SNA

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Great River Bluffs State Park

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Greenwater Lake SNA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Gustafson’s Camp SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hastings SNA

Hayes Lake State Park

Hemlock Ravine SNA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Iron Springs Bog SNA

Itasca State Park

Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary SNA

Jay Cooke State Park

Jensen Memorial WMA

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

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Keller Regional Park

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Langhei Prairie SNA

Lawrence Creek SNA

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Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Lutsen SNA

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

McCarthy Beach State Park

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Mille Lacs WMA

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Louisville Swamp Unit

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Mound Prairie SNA

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Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

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Myre-Big Island State Park

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Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Osmundson Prairie SNA

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Partch Woods SNA

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Phelps Lake WMA

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

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Potato Lake SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Racine Prairie SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Rice Lake State Park

Ripley Esker SNA

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Rockville County Park

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Rushford Sand Barrens SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

St. Croix State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

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Schaefer Prairie

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Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Seven Springs WMA

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods SNA

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Spring Lake Regional Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Staffanson Prairie

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Strandness Prairie

Sunfish Lake Park

Swedes Forest SNA

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Thorson Prairie WMA

Tiedemann WMA

Townsend Woods SNA

Tribute WMA

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Two Rivers Aspen Prairie Parkland SNA

Tympanuchus Prairie

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

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William O’Brien State Park

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

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