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Trifolium pratense L.

Trifolium pratense L. var. frigidum auct. non Gaudin

Trifolium pratense L. var. sativum (Mill.) Schreb.

Pink clover

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusTrifolium“Three-leaved,” for the 3-leaf clusters
SpeciespratenseGrowing in meadows

About plant names...

Red clover is native to Europe, western Asia, and northwest Africa. It was brought to North America (and many other places), and it is now abundant. Red clover is grown extensively for pasture animals.

Here is a comparison among red, white, alsike, and crimson clovers:


Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

Appearance in late fall. · 9/3/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3 × 2½" (7.8 × 6.1 cm)

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

8/4/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 4 × 3" (10 × 7.7 cm)

Trifolium repens

Trifolium hybridum

Trifolium incarnatum
Common Name

white clover

alsike clover

crimson clover
Plant Plant stems are 4-16" (10-40 cm) long, but often lying on their sides, so these clovers are usually close to the ground 12-24" (30-60 cm) tall, typically somewhat smaller than red clover and larger than white clover. It has multiple hairless, fairly flexible stems 20" (50 cm) high.
Flowers On flower stalks 1-4" (2.5-10 cm) long. Flowerheads are ½-1¼" (1.3-3.2 cm) around, rounded, white, sometimes pinkish ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) around, and may be pink on the bottom, grading to white on the top; or pink throughout. The shade of pink is lighter than with red clover Deep red, forming rounded conical flowerheads about 1" (2.5 cm) tall and ⅝" (1.7 cm) around. Flowering occurs during April to May.


In groups of 3. Leaflets are oval, ½-1¼" (1.3-3.2 cm) long, with a slight indentation at the end. Each leaflet has a pale green “V” close to the base and slightly toothed leaf edges


In groups of three, each about ¾" (2 cm) long, and attached directly to the stem that supports the leaf cluster. Leaves are oval-shaped, with smooth-appearing edges that have tiny teeth, and no chevrons
Leaves are round or oval, in groups of three, each roughly at right angles to the others.
Range/ Zones

Habitats Waste ground, pastures, open fields, roadsides, railroads Moist meadows near woodlands, pastures, abandoned fields, and roadsides  
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence Very common Common, but less so than red and white clovers  


Identification: Plants are 8-31" (20-80 cm) tall, multiply branched, often partially lying down. Stems are sometimes purplish and sometimes hairy. Leaves are in 3-leaf clusters. Leaflets ⅜-2½" (1-7 cm) long × ⅜-1½" (1-4 cm), with a distinctive pale green crescent or “V” on the outer half of the leaf. They vary from roundish to an elongated oval. Flowers are pink to rose (rarely white). Flowerheads are about ¾" (1.9 cm) around.

Medical: As is typically the case with very common plants, various healing properties have been attributed to red clover. One of the more widely believed properties is that clover contains substances that can treat post-menopausal symptoms. A controlled study by the George Washington University School of Medicine, published in the journal Menopause, found that clover has no such effect.

But as a fertilizer...

Online References:

Trifolium pratense at the Oregon Flora Image Project

Trifolium pratense on Missouriplants.com

Trifolium pratense in Paghat's Garden

Trifolium pratense on Wikipedia

Trifolium pratense on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Trifolium pratense on hort.purdue.edu

Trifolium pratense on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

8/4/2006 · Mt. Mansfield, Stowe, Ver­mont

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

6/10/2016 · Monhegan Island, Maine

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

6/24/2015 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Ctr, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3½ × 3" (8.6 × 8.5 cm)

Trifolium pratense description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

8/4/2006 · Mt. Mansfield, Stowe, Ver­mont

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

4/29/2010 · Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, Chelmsford, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 19 × 15" (48 × 38 cm)

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

6/15/2013 · Sonny and Donna’s, Tenant’s Harbor, Maine
≈ 4½ × 3" (12 × 8 cm)

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

6/10/2016 · Monhegan Island, Maine

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

6/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

9/19/2009 · Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
≈ 3½ × 4" (9.2 × 10 cm)

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

6/22/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)

Trifolium pratense (pink clover)

8/31/2007 · Silver Falls State Park, Ore­gon
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)


About this map...