Clover Flower

Interesting Facts About The Clover Flower

The clover flower is quite possibly one of the most striking and original looking flowers that you will probably ever see.  There are approximately 300 varieties in the family, primarily found in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, there are some that grow freely in parts of Africa and South America, even on mountains at high altitudes.  They can be found as both annual or biennial as well as short-lived perennials.

 

 

The leaves of the clover flower are trifoliate with stipules attached to the leaf stalk.  The heads are magical looking, displaying spiked rows of small white, purple, red or yellow flowers and enclosed in the calyx are a few seeded pods.  Other closely related varieties are the alfalfa, sweet clover and the shamrock.

Cultivation

The most widely cultivated variety is the white clover and the red clover either sown by themselves or accompanied with rye grass.  For a long time, the clover flower has been used to prepare soil for a future cropping for a few different reasons. The main reason is that it grows freely and shoots right back up again after it has been mowed.  They produce quite an abundant crop and they are a tasty and nutritious treat for livestock.  These flowers grow in a wide range of climates and soils and are appropriate for green composting or pasturage.

In many areas, the clover flower is quite short-lived, especially in acidic soil because there is such a large combination of diseases, pests and nutrient balance which is referred to as clover sickness.  Crop rotations must always be managed to make sure that they don't recur in intervals less than eight years to ensure that they grow with vigor.

Clover Sickness

It is suggested that clover sickness is due to pollinator decline.  The clover flower relies heavily on the bumblebees for pollination which has significantly declined due to agricultural intensification.  Since honeybees are clover pollinators, beekeepers are typically in quite high demand from clover pasture farmers.  They reap benefits of the increased reseeding that is the result of the bumblebee activity so the furniture clover yields are quite abundant.  Additionally, the beekeepers also benefit from the bees being supplied with the nectar that they need to make honey.

Companion Planting

Clovers happily grow among crops, turf grass and many other landscapes.  They are also found in various other types of fields and they can tolerate quite a few pH variations of soil however, they really prefer clay.  The clover flower can tolerate extremely close mowing and they are considered a beneficial component to organic or natural lawns because they combat weeds due to their high nitrogen content.  Not to mention, natural nitrogen reduces lawn diseases that are usually enhanced by the use of synthetic fertilizers.

Culinary Uses

Besides being an excellent source of forage crops for livestock they are also a valuable food source because they are so incredibly high in protein.  Fresh plants have been used for many centuries as a tasty and healthy additive to salads.

It is not recommended to consume them raw because they are quite hard to digest and could lead to stomach upset but all you need to do is boil them for about 10 minutes and the problem is remedied.  Seedpods and flower heads are easily ground into nutritious baking flour or steeped into a tisane.  It can even be sprinkled on rice as well as other types of cooked foods.  If they are used in soups, generally the leaves of the plant are harvested rather than the flowers.

Medicinal Uses

The Iroquois, Cherokee and Mohegan tribes have been using clover for folk medicine for centuries.  An infusion can treat fevers, coughing, common cold and Bright's disease.