T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Trifolium
Species: T. pratense
Binomial name: Trifolium pratense
Common name: Red Clover

Trifolium pratense (Red Clover) is a species of clover, native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa, but planted and naturalised in many other regions. It is an herbaceous, short lived perennial plant, variable in size, growing to 20-80 cm tall. The leaves are alternate, trifoliate (with three leaflets), each leaflet 15-30 mm long and 8-15 mm broad, green with a characteristic pale crescent in the outer half of the leaf; the petiole is 1-4 cm long, with two basal stipules. The flowers are dark pink with a paler base, 12-15 mm long, produced in a dense inflorescence. It is widely grown as a fodder crop in New Zealand and is also valued for its nitrogen fixation which increases soil fertility.
Red Clover contains isoflavones (oestrogen-like compounds) which promote oestrogen production and which may enhance fertility in women and boost oestrogen levels in women with oestrogen deficiencies. In addition, the Red Clover contains calcium and magnesium which can relax the nervous system and improve fertility. The isoflavones (like irilone and pratensein) and phytoestrogens from red clover have been used to treat the symptoms of menopause. It has also been reported that red clover has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, such as bronchitis, burns, cancers, ulcers, sedation, and asthma.