Trifolium repens - L.
Common Name White Clover, Dutch Clover, Purple Dutch Clover, Shamrock, White Clover
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards This plant has been known to cause problems for grazing animals, though this has never happened in Britain[76]. The problem may be associated with the climate in which the plant is growing[76]. The species is polymorphic for cyanogenic glycosides[218]. The leaves and flowers of certain cyanogenic phenotypes contain a glycoside which releases cyanide on contact with the enzyme linamarase[218].
Habitats Grassland and lawns, preferring a calcareous clay soil[9, 17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Norwat south and east to N. Africa, north and western Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Mid summer, Mid fall, Mid spring. Form: Prostrate.

Trifolium repens White Clover, Dutch Clover, Purple Dutch Clover, Shamrock,  White Clover
Trifolium repens White Clover, Dutch Clover, Purple Dutch Clover, Shamrock,  White Clover
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Trifolium repens is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Trifolium repens L. var. atropurpureum

 Ground Cover; Lawn;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[13, 94, 183]. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower and are used in salads, soups etc[9]. They can also be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach[9]. The leaves are best cooked[172]. Flowers and seed pods are dried, ground into powder and used as a flour or sprinkled on cooked foods such as boiled rice[183]. Very wholesome and nutritious[115]. The young flowers can also be used in salads[144, 172, 183]. Root - cooked[172, 177]. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc[172]. Dried flowering heads are a tea substitute.
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Antiscrophulatic;  Depurative;  Detergent;  Ophthalmic;  Tonic.

The plant is antirheumatic, antiscrophulatic, depurative, detergent and tonic[218]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, fevers and leucorrhoea[257]. A tincture of the leaves is applied as an ointment to gout[218]. An infusion of the flowers has been used as an eyewash[257].


Other Uses
Green manure.

The plant makes a good green manure, it is useful for over-wintering, especially in a mixture with Lolium perenne[87]. Produces a good bulk. It is a host to 'clover rot' however, so should not be used too frequently[87]. It can be undersown with cereals or with tomatoes in a greenhouse (sow the seed before planting the tomatoes)[87]. Fairly deep rooting but not very fast growing[87]. A good fast ground-cover plant for a sunny position[87].
Cultivation details
Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen;  Agroforestry Services: Understory legume;  Fodder: Pasture;  Global Crop;  Management: Fodder;  Management: Hay;  Staple Crop: Protein.

Landscape Uses:Ground cover. Succeeds in a moist, well-drained circum-neutral soil in full sun, preferring a sweet calcareous clay soil. Succeeds in poor soils. A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species[30] it is also a good bee plant[54]. A good companion plant in the lawn, tolerating trampling[18, 54], but it dislikes growing with henbane or members of the buttercup family[18]. It grows well in an apple orchard, the trees will produce tastier fruit that stores better[201]. It should not be grown with camellias or gooseberries because it harbours a mite that can cause fruit drop in the gooseberries and premature budding in the camellias[201]. Polymorphic, there are many subspecies and varieties. Some varieties have also been selected for use in lawn mixes[183]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. Buttercups growing nearby depress the growth of the nitrogen bacteria by means of a root exudate[201]. Special Features:Not North American native, Invasive.
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ. If the seed is in short supply it might be better to sow it in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. Division in spring[238].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Trifolium bifidumPiñole Clover, Notchleaf clover20
Trifolium ciliatumFoothill Clover20
Trifolium cyathiferumCup Clover10
Trifolium dichotomumBranched Indian Clover20
Trifolium dubiumSuckling Clover01
Trifolium fimbriatumSpringbank Clover, Cows clover30
Trifolium fucatumSour Clover, Bull clover20
Trifolium fucatum virescens 20
Trifolium gracilentumPin-Point Clover, Palmer's clover20
Trifolium hybridumAlsike Clover21
Trifolium incarnatumCrimson Clover20
Trifolium lupinasterLupine clover10
Trifolium macrocephalumBighead Clover, Largehead clover10
Trifolium microcephalumSmallhead Clover10
Trifolium obtusiflorumClammy Clover20
Trifolium ornithopodioidesBirdsfoot Fenugreek, Bird clover10
Trifolium pratenseRed Clover33
Trifolium subterraneumSubterranean Clover10
Trifolium tridentatumTomcat Clover20
Trifolium variegatumWhitetip Clover10


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Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Geoff Drake   Fri May 27 19:37:57 2005

Link: The Fukuoka Method of growing a guild of White Clover/Wheat/Rice

Dr. Shrestha (Malla) Anjali Mainya   Mon Jun 28 08:10:19 2004
Eight varieties of Trifolium repens L.were studied on the basis of flower color and leaf markings in Nepal. These were: 1. White flower with marked leaf, 2. White flower with non-marked leaf. 3. White with pink tinged flower and marked leaf, 4.White with pink tinged flower and non-marked leaf, 5. Pink flower with marked leaf, 6. Pink flower with non-marked leaf, 7. Light pink flower with marked leaf, 8. Light pink flower with non-marked leaf.

Uses: 1. Wine can be made from flower heads 2. Leaves contain high vitamin C and can be used as its substitute 3. It plays an important role in the production of rabbit fur or angora.

Refference: The study on the diversity of Trifolium repens in Nepal, Ph.D thesis, 2002.

   Jul 28 2017 12:00AM
White clover here is described with the words "It cannot grow in the shade." Several sources list that it can be grown in both partial and full shade. Here are two:
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Subject : Trifolium repens  

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