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


Trifolium arvense (Haresfoot clover)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order:Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Trifolium
Species: T. arvense
Binomial name: Trifolium arvense
Common names: Haresfoot, Rabbitfoot, Stone clover, Oldfield clover

Trifolium arvense is a species of clover This species of clover is native to most of Europe, excluding the arctic zone, and western Asia and North Africa,
It grows in thin pastures, dry east places, both acidic and alkaline, typically found at the edge of fields, in wastelands, at the side of roads, on sand dunes, and opportunistically in vineyards and orchards when they are not irrigated. It is common through out the North Island.
Trifolium arvense is a small erect soft hairy greyish annual (sometimes biennial) clover with fluffy flower heads growing to 10-40 cm tall. Like all clovers, it has leaves divided into three sessile leaflets, which are slender, 1-2 cm long and 3-5 mm broad, and sometimes edged with small hairs and finely serrated. The leaves have a pair of stipules at the base, often tipped in red. The flowers are grouped in a dense inflorescence 2-3 cm long and 1-1.5 cm broad; each flower is 4-5 mm long, rosy white in colour, and especially characterised by the many silky white hairs which tip the five sepals, which are much larger than the petals. These hairs, along with the more or less oblong form of the inflorescence, are the inspiration for the common name. Pollination is carried out by bees, or via autogamy, since the plant is hermaphroditic, and the flowering season is from mid-spring to late summer. The fruit is a small pod containing a single seed.

Like most legumes, it fixes nitrogen, making it valued on low fertility soils for the benefit it gives to other crop species in supplying nitrogen. It is also grazed by sheep and goats.

Scientist at AgResearch in New Zealand has used genetic modification to take a single gene from Trifolium arvense and put it into the more common white clover. The genetically modified clover would reduce bloating in livestock and decrease methane emissions. The release of the genetically modified clover is expected to be a few years off.

Seed head