White Clover: An everyday exotic

White Clover Patch

A patch of White Clover (Trifolium repens) on the lawn of Spencer Hall, Sewanee, TN

White Clover (Trifolium repens) is found throughout North America, but is native to Europe and Asia. Many other lawn plants are exotic, but extremely common in Tennessee,including Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major), Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officianale), Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).

20150417_135611White Clover is a perennial that produces familiar whitish flowers. Trifolium, the genus name for clovers, refers to their leaves, which are separated into three leaflets. There is often a white crescent on each of these leaflets. White Clover have stolons which allow for vegetative growth. As a result, it is a very persistent plant that can survive frequent mowing.

White Clover can occasional mutate, producing four leaflets instead of the typical three. These four-leaf clovers are a symbol of good luck – it is thought that there is one four-leaf clover for every 10,000 three-leaf clovers.

White Clover is used for grazing animals, and as it is in the bean family (Fabaceae), it is a nitrogen fixer.
The flowers, leaves, and roots are all edible – young leaves can be eaten directly, and mature leaves and roots are cooked. Flowers can be ground into flour.


About Callie Oldfield

I was a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow for the Sewanee Herbarium from Winter 2015-Summer 2016. I am currently a PhD student studying Plant Biology at the University of Georgia.

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