Clover (Trifolium), or trefoil, is a genus of about 300 species of plants in the pea family Fabaceae. The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution; the highest diversity is found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but many species also occur in South America and Africa, including at high altitudes on mountains in the tropics. They are small annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial herbaceous plants. The leaves are trifoliate (rarely 5- or 7-foliate), with stipules adnate to the leaf-stalk, and heads or dense spikes of small red, purple, white, or yellow flowers; the small, few-seeded pods are enclosed in the calyx. Other closely related genera often called clovers include Melilotus (sweet clover) and Medicago (alfalfa or 'calvary clover'). The "shamrock" of popular iconography is sometimes considered to be young clover. The scientific name derives from the Latin tres, "three", and folium, "leaf", so called from the characteristic form of the leaf, which has three leaflets (trifoliate); hence the popular name trefoil. Clovers are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species; see list of Lepidoptera that feed on clovers.
Several species are extensively cultivated as fodder-plants. The most widely cultivated clovers are White clover Trifolium repens and Red clover Trifolium pratense. Clover, either sown alone or in mixture with ryegrass, has for a long time formed a staple crop for soiling, for several reasons: it grows freely, shooting up again after repeated mowings; it produces an abundant crop; it is palatable to and nutritious for livestock; it grows in a great range of soils and climates; and it is appropriate for either pasturage or green composting.
In many areas, particularly on acidic soil, clover is short-lived because of a combination of insect pests, diseases and nutrient balance; this is known as "clover sickness". When crop rotations are managed so that clover does not recur at shorter intervals than eight years, it grows with much of its pristine vigour.
Clover sickness in more recent times may also be linked to pollinator decline; clovers are most efficiently pollinated by bumblebees, which have declined as a result of agricultural intensification. Honeybees can also pollinate clover, and beekeepers are often in heavy demand from farmers with clover pastures. Farmers enjoy the benefits of increased reseeding that occurs with increased bee activity, which means that future clover yields remain abundant. Beekeepers benefit from the clover bloom as clover is one of the main nectar sources for honeybees.
T. repens, White or Dutch clover, is a perennial abundant in meadows and good pastures. The flowers are white or pinkish, becoming brown and deflexed as the corolla fades. T. hybridum, Alsike or Swedish clover, is a perennial which was introduced early in the 19th century and has now become naturalized in Britain. The flowers are white or rosy, and resemble those of the last species. T. medium, meadow or zigzag clover, a perennial with straggling flexuous stems and rose-purple flowers, is of little agricultural value.
Other British species are: T. arvense, Hare's-foot trefoil; found in fields and dry pastures, a soft hairy plant with minute white or pale pink flowers and feathery sepals; T. fragiferum, Strawberry clover, with densely-flowered, globose, rose-purple heads and swollen calyxes; T. procumbens, Hop trefoil, on dry pastures and roadsides, the heads of pale yellow flowers suggesting miniature hops; and the somewhat similar T. minus, common in pastures and roadsides, with smaller heads and small yellow flowers turning dark brown. The last named is often called shamrock.
Clovers are a valuable survival food, as they are high in protein, widespread, and abundant. They are not easy to digest raw, but this can be easily fixed by juicing them or boiling them for 5–10 minutes. Dried flower heads and seedpods can also be ground up into a nutritious flour and mixed with other foods. Dried flower heads can also be steeped in hot water for a healthful, tasty tea.
Shamrock, the traditional Irish symbol coined by Saint Patrick for the Holy Trinity, is commonly associated with clover, though sometimes with Oxalis species, which are also trifoliate (i.e., they have three leaves).
Clovers occasionally have leaves with four leaflets, instead of the usual three. These four-leaf clovers, like other rarities, are considered lucky. Clovers can also have five, six, or more leaves, but these are more rare. The most ever recorded is twenty-one, a record set in June 2008 by the same man who held the prior record and the current Guinness World Record of eighteen. Unofficial claims of discovery have ranged as high as twenty-seven.
A common idiom is "to be in clover", meaning to be living a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity. This stems from the historical use of clover as green manure planted after harvesting a crop; a farmer whose fields were "in the clover" was finished for the season.
The cloverleaf interchange is named for the resemblance to the leaves of a (four-leafed) clover when viewed from the air.
Oneflower clover (Trifolium uniflorum)
Inscribed to the Memory of John Keats
by in the year 1876
|Sidney Lanier signed and dated this poem “West Chester, Pa., Summer of 1876.”|
Chester’s favorable fields,
My large unjealous Loves, many yet one—
A grave good-morrow to your Graces, all,
Fair tilth and fruitful seasons!
Lo, how still!
The midmorn empties you of men, save me;
Speak to your lover, meadows! None can hear.
I lie as lies yon placid Brandywine,
Holding the hills and heavens in my heart
’Tis a perfect hour.
From founts of dawn the fluent autumn day
Has rippled as a brook right pleasantly
Half-way to noon; but now with widening turn
Makes pause, in lucent meditation locked,
And rounds into a silver pool of morn,
Bottom’d with clover-fields. My heart just hears
Eight lingering strokes of some far village-bell,
That speak the hour so inward-voiced, meseems
Time’s conscience has but whispered him eight hints
Of revolution. Reigns that mild surcease
That stills the middle of each rural morn—
When nimble noises that with sunrise ran
About the farms have sunk again to rest;
When Tom no more across the horse-lot calls
To sleepy Dick, nor Dick husk-voiced upbraids
The sway-back’d roan for stamping on his foot
With sulphurous oath and kick in flank, what time
The cart-chain clinks across the slanting shaft,
And, kitchenward, the rattling bucket plumps
Souse down the well, where quivering ducks quack loud,
And Susan Cook is singing.
Up the sky
The hesitating moon slow trembles on,
Faint as a new-washed soul but lately up
From out a buried body. Far about,
A hundred slopes in hundred fantasies
Most ravishingly run, so smooth of curve
That I but seem to see the fluent plain
Rise toward a rain of clover-blooms, as lakes
Pout gentle mounds of plashment up to meet
Big shower-drops. Now the little winds, as bees,
Bowing the blooms come wandering where I lie
Mixt soul and body with the clover-tufts,
Light on my spirit, give from wing and thigh
Rich pollens and divine sweet irritants
To every nerve, and freshly make report
Of inmost Nature’s secret autumn-thought
Unto some soul of sense within my frame
That owns each cognizance of the outlying five,
And sees, hears, tastes, smells, touches, all in one.
Tell me, dear Clover (since my soul is thine,
Since I am fain give study all the day,
To make thy ways my ways, thy service mine,
To seek me out thy God, my God to be,
And die from out myself to live in thee)—
Now, Cousin Clover, tell me in mine ear:
Go’st thou to market with thy pink and green?
Of what avail, this color and this grace?
Wert thou but squat of stem and brindle-brown,
Still careless herds would feed. A poet, thou:
What worth, what worth, the whole of all thine art?
Three-Leaves, instruct me! I am sick of price.
Framed in the arching of two clover-stems
Where-through I gaze from off my hill, afar,
The spacious fields from me to Heaven take on
Tremors of change and new significance
To th’ eye, as to the ear a simple tale
Begins to hint a parable’s sense beneath.
The prospect widens, cuts all bounds of blue
Where horizontal limits bend, and spreads
Into a curious-hill’d and curious-valley’d Vast,
Endless before, behind, around; which seems
Th’ incalculable Up-and-Down of Time
Made plain before mine eyes. The clover-stems
Still cover all the space; but now they bear,
For clover-blooms, fair, stately heads of men
With poets’ faces heartsome, dear and pale—
Sweet visages of all the souls of time
Whose loving service to the world has been
In the artist’s way expressed and bodied. Oh,
In arms’ reach, here be Dante, Keats, Chopin,
Raphael, Lucretius, Omar, Angelo,
Beethoven, Chaucer, Schubert, Shakespeare, Bach,
And Buddha (sweetest masters! Let me lay
These arms this once, this humble once, about
Your reverend necks—the most containing clasp,
For all in all, this world e’er saw!) and there,
Yet further on, bright throngs unnamable
Of workers worshipful, nobilities
In the Court of Gentle Service, silent men,
Dwellers in woods, brooders on helpful art,
And all the press of them, the fair, the large,
That wrought with beauty.
Lo, what bulk is here?
Now comes the Course-of-things, shaped like an Ox,
Slow browsing, o’er my hillside, ponderously—
The huge-brawned, tame, and workful Course-of-things,
That hath his grass, if earth be round or flat,
And hath his grass, if empires plunge in pain
Or faiths flash out. This cool, unasking Ox
Comes browsing o’er my hills and vales of Time,
And thrusts me out his tongue, and curls it, sharp,
And sicklewise, about my poets’ heads,
And twists them in, all—Dante, Keats, Chopin,
Raphael, Lucretius, Omar, Angelo,
Beethoven, Chaucer, Schubert, Shakespeare, Bach,
And Buddha, in one sheaf—and champs and chews,
With slantly-churning jaws, and swallows down;
Then slowly plants a mighty forefoot out,
And makes advance to futureward, one inch.
So: they have played their part.
And to this end?
This, God? This, troublous-breeding Earth? This, Sun
Of hot, quick pains? To this no-end that ends,
These Masters wrought, and wept, and sweated blood,
And burned, and loved, and ached with public shame,
And found no friends to breathe their loves to, save
Woods and wet pillows? This was all? This Ox?
“Nay,” quoth a sum of voices in mine ear,
“God’s clover, we, and feed His Course-of-things;
The pasture is God’s pasture; systems strange
Of food and fiberment He hath, whereby
The general brawn is built for plans of His
To quality precise. Kinsman, learn this:
The artist’s market is the heart of man;
The artist’s price, some little good of man.
Tease not thy vision with vain search for ends.
The End of Means is art that works by love.
The End of Ends ... in God’s Beginning’s lost.”
|This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.|
CLOVER, in botany, the English name for plants of the genus Trifolium, from Lat. tres, three, and folium, a leaf, so called from the characteristic form of the leaf, which has three leaflets (trifoliate), hence the popular name trefoil. It is a member of the family Leguminosae, and contains about three hundred species, found chiefly in north temperate regions, but also, like other north temperate genera, on the mountains in the tropics. The plants are small annual or perennial herbs with trifoliate (rarely 50r 7-foliate) leaves, with stipules adnate to the leaf-stalk, and heads or dense spikes of small red, purple, white, or rarely yellow flowers; the small, few-seeded pods are enclosed in the calyx. Eighteen species are native in Britain, and several are extensively cultivated as fodder-plants. T. pratense, red or purple clover, is the most widely cultivated.
This plant, either sown alone or in mixture with rye-grass, has for a long time formed the staple crop for soiling; and so long as it grew freely, its power of shooting up again after repeated mowings, the bulk of crop thus obtained, its palatableness to stock and feeding qualities, the great range of soils and climate in which it grows, and its fitness either for pasturage or soiling, well entitled it to this preference. Except on certain rich calcareous clay soils, it has now, however, become an exceedingly precarious crop. The seed, when genuine, which unfortunately is very often not the case, germinates as freely as ever, and no greater difficulty than heretofore is experienced in having a full plant during autumn and the greater part of winter; but over most part of the country, the farmer, after having his hopes raised by seeing a thick cover of vigorous-looking clover plants over his field, finds to his dismay, by March or April, that they have either entirely disappeared, or are found only in capricious patches here and there over the field. No satisfactory explanation of this "clover-sickness" has yet been given, nor any certain remedy, of a kind to be applied to the soil, discovered. One important fact is, however, now well established, viz. that when the cropping of the land is so managed that clover does not recur at shorter intervals than eight years, it grows with much of its pristine vigour. The knowledge of this fact now determines many farmers in varying their rotation so as to secure this important end. At one time there was a somewhat prevalent belief that the introduction of beans into the rotation had a specific influence of a beneficial kind on the clover when it came next to be sown; but the true explanation seems to be that the beans operate favourably only by the incidental circumstance of almost necessarily lengthening the interval betwixt the recurrences of clover.
When the four-course rotation is followed, no better plan of managing this process has been yet suggested than to sow beans, pease, potatoes or tares, instead of clover, for one round, making the rotation one of eight years instead of four. The mechanical condition of the soil seems to have something to do with the success or failure of the clover crop. We have often noticed that headlands, or the converging line of wheel-tracks near a gateway at which the preceding root crop had been carted from a field, have had a good take of clover, when on the field generally it had failed. In the same way a field that has been much poached by sheep while consuming turnips upon it, and which has afterwards been ploughed up in an unkindly state, will have the clover prosper upon it, when it fails in other cases where the soil appears in far better condition. If red clover can be again made a safe crop, it will be a boon indeed to agriculture. Its seeds are usually sown along with a grain crop, any time from the ist of February to May, at the rate of i 2 lb to 20 lb per acre when not combined with other clovers or grasses.
Italian rye-grass and red clover are now frequently sown in mixture for soiling, and succeed admirably. It is, however, a wiser course to sow them separately, as by substituting the Italian rye-grass for clover, for a single rotation, the farmer not only gets a crop of forage as valuable in all respects, but is enabled, if he choose, to prolong the interval betwixt the sowings of clover to twelve years, by sowing, as already recommended, pulse the first round, Italian rye-grass the second, and clover the third.
These two crops, then, are those on which the arable-land farmer mainly relies for green forage. To have them good, he must be prepared to make a liberal application of manure. Good farm-yard dung may be applied with advantage either in autumn or spring, taking care to cart it upon the land only when it is dry enough to admit of this being done without injury. It must also be spread very evenly so soon as emptied from the carts. But it is usually more expedient to use either guano, nitrate of soda, or soot for this purpose, at the rates respectively of 2 cwt., i cwt. and 20 bushels. If two or more of these substances are used, the quantities of each will be altered in proportion. They are best also to be applied in two or three portions at intervals of fourteen to twenty days, beginning towards the end of December, and only when rain seems imminent or has just fallen.
When manure is broadcast over a young clover field, and presently after washed in by rain, the effect is identical with that of first dissolving it in water, and then distributing the dilution over the surface, with this difference, namely, that the first plan costs only the price of the guano, &c., and is available at any time and to every one, whereas the latter implies the construction of tanks and costly machinery.
T. incarnatum, crimson or Italian clover, though not hardy enough to withstand the climate of Scotland in ordinary winters, is a most valuable forage crop in England. It is sown as quickly as possible after the removal of a grain crop at the rate of 18 lb to 20 lb per acre. It is found to succeed better when only the surface of the soil is stirred by the scarifier and harrow than when a ploughing is given. It grows rapidly in spring, and yields an abundant crop of green food, peculiarly palatable to live stock. It is also suitable for making into hay. Only one cutting, however, can be obtained, as it does not shoot again after being mown.
k T. repens, white or Dutch clover, is a perennial abundant in meadows and good pastures. The flowers are white or pinkish, becoming brown and deflexed as the corolla fades. T. hybridum, Alsike or Swedish clover, is a perennial which was introduced early in the 10th century and has now become naturalized in Britain. The flowers are white or rosy, and resemble those of the last species. T. medium, meadow or zigzag clover, a perennial with straggling flexuous stems and rose-purple flowers, is of little agricultural value. Other British species are: T. arvense, hare's-foot trefoil, found in fields and dry pastures, a soft hairy plant with minute white or pale pink flowers and feathery sepals; T. fragiferum, strawberry clover, with denselyflowered, globose, rose-purple heads and swollen calyxes; T. procumbens, hop trefoil, on dry pastures and roadsides, the heads of pale yellow flowers suggesting miniature hops; and the somewhat similar T. minus, common in pastures and roadsides, with smaller heads and small yellow flowers turning dark brown. The last named is the true shamrock. Specimens of shamrock and other clovers are not infrequently found with four leaflets, and, like other rarities, are considered lucky. Calvary clover is a member of the closely allied genus MedicagoM. Echinus, so called from the curled spiny pod; it has small heads of yellow clover-like flowers, and is a native of the south of France.
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Clover (Trifolium) is a genus of about 300 species of plants in the pea family. It grows worldwide, mainly in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but many species also in South America and Africa, including at high altitudes on mountains in the tropics.
They are small herbaceous plants. It has three sections to each leave, which looks like three leaves. This is called trifoliate.
The Clover is often associated with Ireland.