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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

14 October, 2016

Hop Trefoil: the yellow clover



There are half a dozen yellow clovers one might encounter when out and about but the species with the biggest flower and most like a clover is the hop trefoil (Trifolium campestre). It is quite a common flower on dry ground, especially on calcareous soils.
If you are familiar with hop plants you will know that they have large domed flowers with overlapping plates and that the lower plates (or petals) die off as new ones further up open; so it is with hop trefoil. On most well established hop trefoil flowers whilst the tops are yellow the lower fringes are turning brown. That is where the similarity ends of course, the two species are totally unrelated. Being a clover the hop trefoil has a three lobed leaf - a trefoil and hence the name, hop trefoil.
Hop trefoil is not planted as a fodder crop but it is known to be a good food crop for cattle. It also replenishes soil so it is popular with agriculturalists. Surprisingly, perhaps, I can find no mention of its uses as a herbal remedy of human food source.
Hop Trefoil: the yellow clover