Plant Profiles White Clover Trifolium Repens

White clover, trifolium repens, originally came from Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa.  It can be found, nowadays, in some parts of North America and New Zealand.   This species of clover belongs to the family Fabaceae.  This is the family that is also known for beans, legumes, and peas.  Like most other clover species, it is a perennial plant which means it will grow every year in the same areas without effort.  This explains the scientific classification name as trifolium repens translates to “creeping three leaf.” 

It grows close to the ground with smooth, green leaves and mostly white flowers with a little bit of pink or cream during different stages of the plants lifetime.  The leaves are divided into three like a shamrock but are more egg-shaped.  The plant expands its ground cover by rooting at nodes that form on the stems.  Therefore, some of the plants roots will be seen above ground.  There are many different types of white clover that grow to various heights and have different degrees of hardiness.

While this clover is good for a wide variety of foragers, deer and elk tend to graze on it more than other animals.  These are high in protein so can be used for survival by anyone and can be quite palatable so may be suitable for humans to cook with.  If someone would want to use them in cooking, the person should slightly boil the plant, grind the flowers and seedpods, or fully cook the roots as the entire plant is hard for humans to digest raw.  Another interesting fact is that there is a type of caterpillar, of the Coleophoridae moth family, that has been found to only eat this plant.

This plant can become very invasive but also can be good for other neighboring plants because of the nitrogen it produces.  It can be considered a weed and should be controlled if it is growing in areas where other vegetation is trying to establish ground.  Its invasive qualities make it excellent for areas where grass will not grow or for pasture land.  This clover can be used to help beautify a land but does struggle a little to survive in dry soil.  It does attract bees so people should be careful to use footwear when walking around the flowers. 

White clover does not survive as well as grass, which has been properly fertilized, during the fall and winter months.  It may get smothered around that time of year and if used for grazing should be given time to recover when it is closely grazed even though it may be grazed down to 1 to 2 inches.  There are types that have been developed to last better in the winter.  Overall, white clover is good to maintain as pasture land, mixed with grass, because of its high nitrogen and protein contents.