Trifolium incarnatum

 

Botanical Name : Trifolium incarnatum
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Trifolium
Species: T. incarnatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Names :Crimson clover or Italian clover (The species name incarnatum means “blood red”.)

Habitat :Trifolium incarnatum is  native to most of Europe.(Mainly western and southern Europe, including Britain, to the Balkans and the Mediterranean.) Grows in  grassy places near the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall.

Description:
Trifolium incarnatum is a upright annual herb grows to 20-50 cm tall at a medium rate, unbranched or branched only at the base. The leaves are trifoliate with a long petiole, each leaflet hairy, 8-16 mm across, with a truncated or bilobed apex. The flowers are produced throughout the spring and summer, rich red or crimson, congested on an elongated spike inflorescence 3-5 cm tall and 1.5 cm broad; the individual flowers are up to 10-13 mm long and have five petals. The banner of each flower does not sit upright, but folds forward.

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It is hardy to zone 0 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from July to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile. It can fix Nitrogen.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in a moist, well-drained circum-neutral soil in full sun. Succeeds in poor soils. The ssp. molinerli is the form of this species that is native to Britain, whilst ssp. incarnatum is naturalized in S. Britain and is the form grown as a green manure crop. It grows well in an apple orchard, the trees will produce tastier fruit that stores better. It should not be grown with camellias or gooseberries because it harbours a mite that can cause fruit drop in the gooseberries and premature budding in the camellias. Fairly resistant to ‘clover rot’. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Buttercups growing nearby depress the growth of the nitrogen bacteria by means of a root exudate. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.

Propagation:
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring to early summer in situ. The seed can also be sown in early autumn as a winter green manure.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Seed.

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Edible Uses: Tea.

The seeds can be sprouted and eaten in salads. They can also be dried and ground into a nutritious flour. Dried flower heads are a tea substitute.

Medicinal Uses:
Leaves are made into a strong infusion to suspend the spasms of whooping cough or into a salve for indolent sores.

Other Uses:
Green manure; Soil reclamation.

Used as a green manure. It is relatively fast growing, makes an excellent weed suppressing cover and fixes nitrogen. It is also used with grass seed mixes in soil reclamation projects.

Crimson clover is widely grown as a protein-rich forage crop for cattle and other livestock. It can typically be found in forest margins, fields and roadsides.

It is sown as quickly as possible after the removal of a grain crop at the rate of 20-22 kg/ha. It is found to succeed better when only the surface of the soil is stirred by the scarifier and harrow than when a plowing is given. It grows rapidly in spring, and yields an abundant crop of green food, particularly 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.

In Great Britain it is most valuable in the south, though less successful in northern regions.

It has been introduced into the United States, originally as forage for cattle. It is often used for roadside erosion control, as well as beautification; it tends, however, to eliminate all other desirable spring and early-summer species of native vegetation in the area where it is planted.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Trifolium+incarnatum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trifolium_incarnatum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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