Identifying Clovers found on the South Coast
Clovers are a legume which has many forms, with flowers in shades of red and pink through white and yellow. They have globular (ball shaped) flowers and trifoliate leaves (split into three leaflets). Red clover, Trifolium pratense, and White clover, Trifolium repens, are so common round here that I realise I have hardly photographed them. I will list Trefoils, which are also in the genus Trifolium and have smaller flowers, separately.
Red clover – Trifolium pratense
Red clover is about 10 to 40cm tall and is often found in grass, its height dependent on soil nutrients, competition and mowing regime. The one in the photo below, spotted in long grass near Reculver in Kent, was more blousy than previous samples I had seen so checked the ID. I was confident it was a Trifolium, and as you can see in the image, the leaves have a distinctive white mark and a little purple veining. It can be distinguished from the other two likely pinkish clovers: Zigzag clover, Trifolium medium, is darker and the flower heads have a clear stalk; Sea clover, Trifolium squamosum, seemed to be generally paler than my flower, without markings on the leaves.
White clover – Trifolium repens
White clover is shorter than the red clover and has a creeping nature, being most commonly found in lawns. It has distinctive chevron shaped markings on the leaf similar to red clover. The flowers are held on a relatively long stalk, sometimes with a pink tinge, and tend to reflex downwards on pollination. It is often sown as a forage for ruminants. The photo below shows its creeping habit, growing in gravel at Sovereign Harbour Eastbourne on my walk with the Wildflower Society.
Over the coming months I hope to add more species of Trifolium to this page, and a detail photo of White clover.
Blog posts mentioning Clover – Trifolium are tagged Clover