Red Clover





Red Clover  Trifolium pratense

Family:     Leguminosae, or pea


Synonyms and Common names:     Wild clover, trefoil, purple clover, cow clover, meadow clover, and trefoil,

Description and Habitat:   Red Clover is a biennial or perennial plant.

It is widespread throughout the world in grassy areas and thrives in the more humid upland areas.

This common and highly visible wildflower is relatively small, measuring 15-60 cm. in height.  This wildflower is most easily recognized by its dense, dome-shaped flower cluster, comprised of numerous, long bilaterally symmetrical pink flowers.  Flower clusters are arranged singularly at the top of the terminal shoot.   The leaflets are small, deep green, textured, and have light green V-shaped smudge in the centre.

The pink, bilaterally symmetrical flowers are small, long, and tubular measuring 1.5 cm in length.  The flower petals form the characteristic pea flower, a lower keep formed by two fused lower petals and two upper wings, modified lateral petals.  Petals are curved upward and are arranged in a dome-shaped cluster, measuring around 1.5 to 2.5 cm. in width, and are positioned at the top of the terminal shoot.

The fruit or seed are pod-like with a singular seed.

Red Clover is very persistent and grows best on old fields, lawns along roadsides and in any other similar environments.

Red and White clover is from the same pea family of plants, however, it is red clover that is of most use in making herbal medications.  Red Clover is a native of The British Isles.

Parts used:  Flowerheads.

Collection and preparation:  The flower heads are gathered between late spring and early autumn.  They should be carefully, and slowly, dried in a dark cool place, and they bottled and kept in a sealed jar.  Flower heads do not last as long as roots do, so use within a year and discard what is left.

Alterative, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, nervine, sedative, and tonic.

Constituents:   Phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, coumarins, and cyanogenic glycosides.

Indications and Therapeutics:   Red Clover is one of the most useful remedies for children with skin problems.  It may be used with complete safety in any case of childhood eczema.  It may also be of value in other chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis.  Whilst being most useful with children, it can also be of value for an adult.

The expectorant and anti-spasmodic action give this remedy a role in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis, but especially in whooping cough

As an alterative it is indicated in a wide range of problems when approached in a holistic sense.

The fresh, crushed flowers can be applied to bites and stings, and the tincture in water may be used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis. An infusion of the flowers can be applied as a douche to relieve vaginal itching.

Contraindications:   There are no contraindications for this herb.

Preparation and dosage:
Infusion:  1-3 teaspoons full of dried herb in one cup of boiling water.  Leave to infuse and drink 3 times daily.

Tincture:  2-6 ml. taken 3 times daily.

Additional comments and Folklore:   According to the Doctrine of Signatures, the white crescent markings on the leaflets of red clover were seen as a sign that the plant could be of benefit in the treatment of cataracts.

The three-lobed leaves were associated with the Holy Trinity by mediaeval Christians.

The flowers were a popular anti-cancer remedy in the 1930s. Red clover is widely cultivated as animal fodder; the isoflavones are oestrogenic in animals which may ingest large quantities and it has a contraceptive effect on sheep.

It is strange that anyone around the world if asked about the four-leafed clover, would say it is good luck and considered to be a wonderful find.   There is a wider range of magic attributed to clover which is perhaps due to the undeniable healing power they contain

The convictions that red clover is a tonic for the whole body, strengthening and giving power to anyone who drinks it is a universal as the belief that a four-leafed clover brings good luck if placed in the hat or under the pillow.  And it is bad luck if you find one and leave it unpicked.   It is also widely believed that someone who tries to pick a four-leafed clover in the moonlight will go insane because the good luck of the clover will reverse itself.

Although modern folklore has this three-leaved plant being associated with the Christian holy trinity, the association of plants with three leaves goes much further back into pagan times.  The ancient Greeks and Romans associated it with their three goddesses, and the Celts considered it a sacred symbol of the sun.  It is the national flower of Ireland, but the association with St Patrick is actually more modern and some authorities now consider it was the wood sorrel that St Patrick planted in Ireland and not the red clover.

In folk magic, Red Clover is used in a ritual bath to attract money and prosperity to the bather and is also used as a floor wash to chase out evil and unwanted ghosts.  The four-leaf clover is believed to protect from evil spirits, witches, disease and the evil eye.

This familiar childhood rhyme for a four-leaf clover actually originates from the middle ages.

“One leaf for fame, one leaf for wealth,

One for a faithful lover,

And one to bring glorious health.

Are all in a four-leaf clover.”

The four-leaf clover was said to enable its wearer to ward off evil and witches, to see fairies and various spirits, to heal illnesses, to have good fortune and to escape military service.  With its three leaves, clover is a shamanic plant, allowing one to see into, and interact with, the otherworld.  It is a good talisman for protection and power for travelling out of the body, and for walking between worlds.

Washing the face in Red Clover in the morning dew is said to prevent freckles.