by Stephen Mifsud
   2 Mar 2024      ()
External Links:

Trifolium pratense   (Red Clover)

Trifolium pratense  (FABACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

Contents Links   (Detailed Profile)

Nomenclature Morphology
Plant Description and Characters Plant Information and Uses
Species Images External Links
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Profile Date July-2007 (taxon update: July-2007)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Trifolium pratense - datasheet created on July-2007. Retrieved from on 02-Mar-2024


Species name :

Trifolium pratense  L.

Authority :

Carl von Linne, Sweden, (1707 - 1778)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Lagopus pratensis (L.) Bernh.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Fabaceae  Lindl. (= Leguminosae )
(Pea Family)

English name(s) :

Red Clover, Peavine Clover, Cowgrass

Maltese name(s) :

Xnien ta' l-eghlieqi

Status for Malta :

Casual or accidental alien. Species that was introduced in Malta rather recently and normally it is short-lived or resticted to small populations for a short time, without becoming widespread or invasive.

Name Derivation :

Trifolium: three-leaved since plants of this genus have a compound leaf of three identical leaflets. (Latin origin ); 2 = Three leaved, referring to the trefoil leaves of this Genus (Latin).
pratense: Pasture land, that is, vegetated fields used for cattle to graze on. This species is often found in this habitat. (Latin origin ); 2 = Pasture land, referring to the traditional use as a pasture plant for cattle to graze on. Additionaly, the habitat of the plant is often grassy or nutrient-rich soil often used as a pasture. (Latin).

Remarks :

Rediscoverd by Stephen Mifsud on 25th June 2007 and deposited a specimen to the National Herbarium of Argotti Gardens

Morphology and structure



Growth Form




(sometimes ascending)


Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019)








Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019)


Leaf Shape

Leaf Margin




Each petiolated leaf arises from 2-lobed, oval stipule which is found apressed to the stem. It is membranous with prominent branched veins.


Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019)




Basic Flower Type

No. of Petals

No. of Sepals



Sometimes found in more pale colours (eg: lilac or mauve).


1 upper standard, 2 lateral wings, and 2 bottom keels.

1 (fused)

Sepals fused to form a singular calyx with 5 filiform teeth.


  Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019)







Each flower of the semi-spherical, compact flower head consists of a gamosepalous calycx and a corolla tube about twice asmuch as the calyx and 5 petals arranged as the upper bifid standard, 2 lateral diverging wings and lower keel often the darkest of the petals.


Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019)



Average Flower Size

Pollen Colour

Other Notes



Slightly sweet scent.

10-15mm x 4mm x 3mm

Corolla tube length x vertical axis of corolla (standar to keel) x width (of wings).

Pale yellow




No. Per Fruit






(for every individual flower).


Egg-shaped and somehow asymmetrical.


Dirty yellow, amber, peach or purple.


Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019)



Fruit Type

Colour of Fruit

Subterranean Parts

Other Notes



Pale Brown when fully ripe.



Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019) Online Flora of the Maltese Islands  2002-2019)

Plant description and characters

Life Cycle:

Biennial to Perennial.

Growth Form:

HEMICRYPTOPHYTE (prostate plants with flowers close to the ground)


A single population was found in a fallow field here in Malta possibly introduced from contaminated grain


Very Rare

Localities in Malta:

It is a Very Rare and Endangered plant. Locations remain undisclosed for the protection of the plant.

Plant Height:


Flowering Period:


Protection in Malta:

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List 1989:

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands


A rather variable perennial or biennial legume that forms erect stems or less often ascending ones, reaching a length of 60cm in larger specimens. The stem produce few, lax branches which give rise few well-spaced trefoil leaves. The main stem is often glabrous, the leaf stalks are sub-glabrous to pubescent, while the leaves - especially the lower side - are covered with short, soft, silky hairs.

Lower leaves have long petioles, which becomes much reduced in upper leaves or leaves of secondary branches. Leaves can be described to be arranged in lax alternates along the stem branches. Each leaf is made of a set of 3 identical leaflets. Leaflets are generally oval in shape, and vary from having a broad base to a fusiform (elliptic) form. They have a pale, V-shaped mark on the upper surface. The margin is ciliated and entire, though sometimes, upper leaves are minutely crenated or dentate. Leaflets are about 1-4cm long and 0.5-2cm wide. The leaf stalks can be as long as 8-10cm in the basal leaves.

Leaves arise from a fairly conspicuous stipule (or a joined pair) which is more or less oblong-oval with two triangular lobes ending with a long bristle-like apex. The stipule is membranous (hyaline and scale-like) with prominent green, anastomosing veins. It also have a hairy margin.

The spike-type inflorescence is a dense, apical flower head which have a semi-spherical or flattened conical shape, about 1.5-3cm long. It is found just above the uppermost leaf and can be described to have no peduncle. The individual flowers have no pedicels and are arranged in a circular fashion (whorl-like).

Each flower is made up of a gamosepalous (fused-sepals), pubescent calyx with a rather tubular shape and pale green colour. It has 10 longitudinal dark veins (often referred to as nerves) and 5, unequal, filiform teeth with a short triangular base. The calyx is 4-5mm not including the teeth.

From the calyx emerges the corolla, starting as a tubular structure twice as much as long as the calyx, and ending into 5 petals, arranged - as in most members of Fabaceae - into an upper standard, 2 lateral wings, and a pair of lower petals known as the keel. The standard is bifid and the longest of the petals (6mm c.). The wings are found slightly diverging out and have a white centre. The keel pair is the shortest and flat-close together.

A set of about 12 stamens and the pistil are found hidden between the keel petals. The monadelphous stamens have tiny, yellow anthers and a hair-like, white filaments. The style and stigma is green and curved up. The colour of the petals is usually purple-red but varieties from wine-red to lilac-mauve exist.

The perianth do not drop off but turn reddish-brown and shrinks around the developing fruit. Most of the fruit pod is found hidden inside the calyx. It is a small, rounded, gray-green circumscissile pod (3mm) which turns brown when ripe. It holds a single tiny seed which its colour can be grayish-yellow, amber or purple. The seed is glabrous, 1-2mm long and more or less egg shaped; somehow curved.

Information, uses and other details

There is so much information and documentary about this plant species and in order to facilitate the navigation and reading of this content, below you find a quick index of the main subtitles. Click on the sub-title links below:

  1. Nativity and distribution:
  2. Varieties of Trifolium pratense:
  3. General Uses of the Plant:
  4. Edible Uses:
  5. Adaptation, Ecology and Soil Type:
  6. Propagation:
  7. Cultivation:
  8. Harvesting:
  9. Pests and Potential Problems:
  10. Composition:
  11. Energy Yield Statistics:
  12. Active constituents and phytochemicals of Red clover:
  13. History and past uses of Red Clover:
  14. Folk Medicine:
  15. Medicinal Uses:
  16. Cardiovascular Health:
  17. Prevention of heart disease:
  18. Osteoporosis:
  19. Effects on Cancer:
  20. Management Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH):
  21. Red Clover used as good Female Tonic:
  22. Red Clover in skin remedy:
  23. Effects on "Hot Flashes":
  24. Relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS):
  25. Relieving estrogen-related symptoms:
  26. Menopause:
  27. Effects of Isoflavones from Trifolium pratense (Red Clover):
  28. Drug Interactions Summary for Red Clover,Case Study:
  29. Toxicity and Safety Precautions:
  30. Dosage guide of Red Clover:
  31. Other Short notes:
  32. Other Curious Facts:
  33. Personal Observations:

Nativity and distribution

The distributional range of this plant is shown in the list below:  [WWW-26]

Northern Africa:   Algeria (n.); Morocco; Tunisia
Western Asia:   Afghanistan; Cyprus; Iran; Iraq; Lebanon; Turkey
Caucasus:   Armenia; Azerbaijan; Georgia; Russian Federation - Ciscaucasia, Eastern Siberia (s.), Western Siberia, Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan
Asia:   India (n.w.); Pakistan (n.)
Europe:   Northern Europe: Denmark; Finland; Ireland; Norway; Sweden; United Kingdom
Middle Europe: Austria; Belgium; Czechoslovakia; Germany; Hungary; Netherlands; Poland; Switzerland
Southeastern Europe: Albania; Bulgaria; Greece; Italy (incl. Sardinia, Sicily); Romania; Yugoslavia
Southwestern Europe: France (incl. Corsica); Portugal; Spain

Native to north Atlantic and central Europe, the Mediterranean region, Balkans, Asia Minor, Iran, India, Himalayas, Russia from Arctic south to east Siberia, Caucasus, and the Far East. It spread to England ca 1650 and was carried to America by British colonists. Widely introduced in US and cultivated.  [WWW-33]
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Varieties of Trifolium pratense

Trifolium pratense is very polymorphic and as a matter of fact, there were many subspecies and varieties described over the past decade of which nowadays, these have be filtered down to these seven accepted varieties:  [WWW-60]

Trifolium pratense var. pratense - Widespread.
Trifolium pratense var. americanum - Southeastern Europe (despite the name).
Trifolium pratense var. frigidum - Mountains of central and southern Europe (Pyrenees, Alps, Balkans).
Trifolium pratense var. maritimum - Southern Baltic Sea coast.
Trifolium pratense var. parviflorum - Europe.
Trifolium pratense var. sativum - Mediterranean region. Robust-growing, with hairless or nearly hairless foliage.
Trifolium pratense var. villosum - Alps. Densely hairy foliage.

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General Uses of the Plant

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers  [46, 61].

The plant makes a good green manure, it is useful for over-wintering, especially in a mixture with Lolium perenne  [54].

It is a host to 'clover rot' and due to this disease, it should not be used too frequently  [87].

It can be undersown with cereals though it may be too vigorous  [87].

A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species  [30]. It is also a good bee plant  [54], but not so valuable as the white clover, T. repens  [4].

It is also grown with grass mixtures for land reclamation. Like many Fabaceae species, Trifolium pratense has good nitrogen fixing properties  [200].
Reference  [WWW-60] gives similar general uses and states that Trifolium pratense is widely grown as a fodder crop, valued for its nitrogen fixation which increases soil fertility. For these reasons it is used as a green manure crop. Several Cultivar Groups have been selected for agricultural use, mostly derived from var. sativum. It has become naturalised in many temperate areas, including the Americas and Australasia as an escape from cultivation.

Red clover is primarily used for hay, pasture, silage, and soil improvement. It is a quick growing crop, easily established, and produces high quality forage. Tolerance of shade allows red clover to be used effectively as a cover crop under silage corn.  [WWW-179]

In Europe, Red Clover is widely cultivated and used as a tonic and a salad herb. Red Clover is used by honey makers to add a mild, sweet taste to their honey. It serves as common fodder for domestic animals.  [WWW-180]

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Edible Uses

Leaves and young flowering heads - raw or cooked  [2, 55, 105, 183]. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower, and are used in salads, soups etc  [9]. On their own they can be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach  [9].The leaves are best cooked  [172]. They can be dried, powdered and sprinkled on foods such as boiled rice  [183]. The leaves contain 81% water, 4% protein, 0.7% fat, 2.6% fibre and 2% ash  [218].

The seed can be sprouted and used in salads. A crisp texture and more robust flavour than alfalfa (Medicago sativa)  [183]. The seeds are reported as containing trypsin inhibitors  [218]. These can interfere with certain enzymes that help in the digestion of proteins, but are normally destroyed if the seed is sprouted first.

Flowers and seed pods - dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour  [115]. The young flowers can also be eaten raw in salads  [144, 172].
Root can be eaten after being cooked  [172, 177].

A delicate sweet herb tea is made from the fresh or dried flowers  [21, 55, 183].

The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc  [172].

The flowers are dried and used in an infusion or made into a syrup. Dried inflorescence dose 4 grams or by infusion, liquid extract 1:1 in 25% ethanol, given t.i.d. Collect the flower heads during the summer and fall.  [WWW-165]

Dried clover blossoms were put in with soups and stews, where they added vitamins and minerals and a hint of sweetness from their honey.  [WWW-180]
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Adaptation, Ecology and Soil Type

Red clover grows best on well-drained loamy soils, but it will also grow on soil that is not as well-drained. Medium and fine textured soils are preferred by the plant over sandy or gravelly soils. It is best adapted to a pH of 6.0 or higher.  [WWW-179]

A short-lived perennial that succeeds in a moist, well-drained circum-neutral soil in full sun  [200]. Prefers a medium-heavy loam  [87] and is a very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -23°C  [238].

Native on wet to dry meadows, open forests, forest margins, field borders, and paths. Grows best on well-drained loam soil, but also adapted to wetter soils. Most soils that produce good crops of corn, tobacco or small grains will also produce a good crop of red clover. Loams, silt loams, and even fairly heavy soils are better than light sandy or gravelly soils. Some of these soils may need lime or fertilizer, or both. Red clover is most productive on soil that is within a pH range of 6.6 to 7.6. It also needs P and K to produce good yields; amounts needed can be determined by soil tests. Ranging from Boreal Moist to Wet through Subtropical Moist Forest Life Zones, red clover is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.1 to 19.2 dm (mean of 91 cases = 8.6 dm), annual mean temperature of 4.9 to 20.3°C (mean of 91 cases = 10.6°C), and pH of 4.5 to 8.2 (mean of 84 cases = 6.3). Maximum yields obtained at pH >6 with adequate calcium. A photo period of at least 14 hours seems necessary for the double-cut type to flower, 16-18 hours for 'Mammoth'  [WWW-33]

Red Clover grows in West China, Europe and North America. The plant grows best where soils are rich in calcium, phosphorus and potassium.  [WWW-180]
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Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ. If the seed is in short supply it might be better to sow it in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. Division in spring  [238].
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In northeastern United States and Canada, and at higher elevation in southeastern and western United States, red clover grows as a biennial or short-lived perennial; at lower elevations in southeastern United States, it grows as a winter annual, and at lower elevation in western United States and Canada, it grows under irrigation as a biennial. Most red clover is spring seeded in a crop of fall- or spring-sown small grain. In the early spring the soil alternately freezes and thaws, thus covering the seed with soil. The small grain holds weeds in check while the clover is getting started. At lower elevations in southeastern and western United States, red clover is sown ca Oct. 15, no later than Dec. 15. In these areas it is most frequently sown without a companion crop. In south-eastern United States, late-summer seedlings can be successful on a seedbed, fallowed to prevent weed growth. Grass is extensively seeded with red clover. Clover-grass mixtures are usually superior to clover. In vitro and vivo experiments show that some lines of red clover perform better with ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum).  [WWW-33]

Red clover may be seeded in pure stands, but it is often mixed with grain or grass. Spring or late summer seedlings are satisfactory. It may be overseeded in the spring on fall seeded grasses. Red clover seed should be inoculated. Phosphorus and potash are the fertilizer elements needed mostly by red clover. Apply as recommended by soil tests. Seeding may be done with a drill or broadcast. A firm, weed-free seedbed is essential. Plant seeds an inch deep.  [WWW-179]

Clover-grass yields better hay that cures more rapidly than pure clover hay. Animals are more likely to bloat on pure clover than on clover-grass pasture. Timothy has a high yield, and is ready to cut for hay with the red clover. Sow the grass in the early fall in the small-grain crop; sow the red clover in the small grain-grass in the spring. When the grain is harvested, remove the straw and stubble, as they tend to smother the clover and favor disease. Clover-hay yields from fields where the straw and stubble have been left are only about one-half as large as the yields from fields where they have been removed immediately after combining. Small-grain companion crops compete with red clover for mineral nutrients, moisture, and light. This competition can be reduced by grazing or clipping the small grain in late winter or early spring, just before stems begin growth., Grazing or clipping after clover stems have begun to branch will reduce small-grain yield.  [WWW-33]

It grows well in an apple orchard, the trees will produce tastier fruit that stores better  [201]. 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  [201].
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The first year, graze or mow the clover 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost in the fall. If the stand is mowed, remove the clippings unless the total amount is quite small. The first crop of red clover, harvested early the second year is almost always harvested for hay or silage. In early bloom, red clover is leafy and produces its largest yield of protein per hectare. Cut red clover about 15 days after the first blooms appear. Cut stands grown with grass when clover is ready, not when grass is ready. Usually the second crop of red clover is pastured, harvested for seed, or grown for soil improvement and green manure. To harvest for hay, cut in early bloom; however, hay from this crop is occasionally unpalatable to cattle and sheep. A medium stand of red clover will produce two or three crops of hay the harvest year. Mammoth clover will produce one crop.  [WWW-33]

After the crop is cut, allow it to wilt in swath and then rake it into small, loose windrows. It will cure about as rapidly in the windrows as in the swath, and fewer leaves will be lost in baling. Better, it can also be forced-air dried, which preserves the green color, lessens leaf shattering, and practically eliminates spoilage. Red clover and red clover-grass mixtures are frequently ensilaged. These crops make good ensilage if they are wilted slightly before ensiled, or if carbohydrate or chemical preservatives are added as they are ensiled. Red clover is one of the best legume pasture plants for livestock and poultry. Red clover and red clover-grass mixture pastures can be grazed or they can be cut green and fed to livestock and poultry.  [WWW-33]

Red clover is also one of the better legumes for renovating old pastures. Clip or graze the old pasture closely. Chop up the sod with a disk or harrow before sowing the red clover seed. Red clover may be turned under as green manure to improve soil properties and increase yields of succeeding crops. Many crop rotations are possible for red clover, the oldest being a 3-year rotation of corn, oats or wheat and red dover. Other common rotations are: corn, soybeans, small grain, red clover; corn, small grain, red clover, rice, red clover; sugar beets, small grain, red clover; tobacco, rye or wheat, red clover-grass, grass, grass; potatoes, small grain, red clover.  [WWW-33]

For seed production, the first crop of the second-year stand is usually harvested for hay or silage, the second crop may be harvested for seed. In most areas it is necessary to pollinate with bees, using 5 to 8 strong colonies of bees per hectare. Best seed yields occur when there is an abundance of bees, and soil fertility and moisture are adequate to promote good growth, and when the weather is warm and clear during the flowering period. Harvest the seed crop when the greatest number of seed heads are brown, usually 25-30 days after full bloom. Cut seed crop with mower. Let it cure in the swath or in small windrows.  [WWW-33]

During rainy weather, the mowed crop cures better in swaths than in windrows. Wind rowing is better during clear, warm weather because it reduces harvesting losses. Harvest the swathed or windrowed crops with a combine with a pickup attachment. Operate combine carefully to do a good harvesting job and to reduce harvesting losses. Artificial drying or drying by spreading seed thinly on a floor may improve the quality of the seed. Seed should be turned every few days until completely dry. Rough cleaning immediately after combining reduces the drying time and improves seed quality.  [WWW-33]

A brief harvesting technique according  [WWW-179] is as follows:
Graze or cut for hay when the red clover is to be in bloom. A second cutting or successive grazings should occur when red clover is in bloom. Leave at least 2 inches of growth after each harvest. Care should be taken to eliminate or appreciably reduce bloating of livestock. Keep lime and fertilizers (phosphorus and potash) at the proper level.
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Pests and Potential Problems

Anthracnose and powdery mildew may be problems in areas with high humidity and rainfall.  [WWW-179]

Many fungi, insects and nematodes plaguing red clover have been isolated. The most promising method for control of many red clover diseases is development of resistant cvs. Some progress has been made in developing cvs resistant to northern and southern anthracnose and powdery mildew. For control methods, local agents should be consulted. The following account is taken from  [WWW-33] .

Red clover is attacked by many fungi, some of which may cause serious losses. Among the fungi: Alternaria tenuis, Ampelomyces quisqualis, Ascochyta trifolii, Botrytis anthopila, B. cinerea, Brachysporum trifolii, Cerospora zebrina (summer black stem), Chaetomium cochliodes, Colletotrichum destructivum, C. trifolii (southern anthracnose), Corticium solani, Cylindrocladium scoparium, Cymadothea trifolii, Didymella trifolii, Didymium sturgisii, Erysiphe communis f. trifolii, E. martii, E. polygoni (powdery mildew), Fusarium acuminatum, F. avenaceum, F. equiseti, F. gramineaum, F. oxysporum (root rot), F. pose, F. roseum, F. solani, Kabatiella caulivora (northern anthracnose), Leptosphaerulina americana, L. briosiana, L. trifolii, Metasphaeria boucera, Microsphaeria alni, Mycosphaerella carinthiaca, Oidium erysiphoides, Ophiobolus collapsus, O. graminis, Peronospora pratensis, P. trifoliorum, Phoma trifolii (spring black stem), Phyllachora trifolii, Phymatotrichum omnivorum, Phytophthora cactorum, Phyllosticta trifolii, Plenodomus melioti, Pleospora herbarum, Polythrincium trifolii, Pseudopeziza trifolii, Pseudoplea medicaginis, P. trifolii (pepper spot), Pyrenopeziza jonesii, Pythium debaryanum, Rhizoctonia crocorum, Rh. leguminicola (black patch), Rh. solani, Rh. violacea, Sclerotinia kitajimana, S. sclerotiorum, S. spermophila, S. trifoliorum (crown rot), Septoria compta, Sporonema phacidioides, S. trifolii, Sphaerulina trifolii, Stagonospora compta, S. meliloti, S. recedens, Stemphylium sarcinaeforme (target spot), S. botryosum, Sclerotium delphinii, S. rolfsii, S. bataticola, Stictus pustulata, Thielaviopsis basicola, Thyrospora sarcinaeformis, Uromyces fallens, U. minor, U. nerviphilus, U. trifolii, U. trifolii-repentis, Vermicularis dematium, Verticillium dichotomum, and Volutella fusarioides.

Red clover's life cycle may be shortened by buildups of Fusarium, Gliocladium, and Rhizoctonia in the soil. Since it is impractical to control diseases with fungicides, stress is placed on finding or developing disease resistant cvs.

Bacteria causing diseases in red clover include: Bacillus lathryi (red clover streak), Pseudomonas radiciperda, and Ps. syringae.

Parasites on red clover are Cuscuta epithymum and C. pentagona.

Viruses causing diseases in red clover include the following: bean yellow mosaic (BYMV), red clover vein mosaic (Marmor trifolii), clover mosaic, Pisum virus 2, lucerne mosaic, Trifolium virus 1, common pea mosaic, clover phyllody virus, rugose leaf curl, tobacco mosaic, white clover mosaic, and potato calico (Marmor medicaginis var. solani).

Nematodes isolated from red clover include: Acrobeles ciliatus, Acrobeloides emarginatus, Aphelenchoides ritzemabosi, Aphelenchus avenae, Boleodorus thylactus, Cephalobus spp., Chiloplacus spp., Criconemella curvata, C. lobata, C. rustica, Ditylenchus destructor, D. dipsaci, Eucephalobus spp., Helicotylenchus cairnsi, H. canadensis, H. digonicus, H. dihystera, H. multicinctus, H. pseudorobustus, Heterodera davertii, H. glycines, H. goettingiana, H. lespedezae, H. trifolii, Hoplolaimus galeatus, H. tylenchiformis, Longidorus elongatus, L. maximus, Meloidogyne arenaria, M. artiellia, M. hapla, M. incognita, M. i. acrita, M. javanica, Merlinius brevidens, M. macrurus, Neotylenchus spp., Paratylenchus aciculus, P. brevihastus, P. hamatus, P. projectus, P. sarissus, P. tenuicaudatus, Pratylenchus brachyurus, P. coffeae, P. neglectus, P. penetrans, P. pratensis, P. scribneri, P. tumidiceps, Psilenchus hilarulus, Pungentus pungens, Rotylenchulus reniformis, Rotylenchus goodeyi, R. robustus, Scutellonema brachyurum, Trichodorus christiei, Tylencholaimus mirabilis, Tylenchorhynchus agri, T. annulatus, T. claytoni, T. dubius, T. maximus, T. parvus, Tylenchus costatus, T. davainii, and Xiphinema americanum.

Tylenchorhynchus agri, which feeds only on the epidermal cells in the region of root elongation, actually stimulates the growth.

The most destructive insects reported on red clover include the following: clover root borer (Hylastinus obscurus), clover root curculio (Sitona hispidulus), clover seed chalcid (Bruchophagus gibbus), lesser clover leaf weevil (Hypera nigrirostris), potato leafhopper (Empoasca fabae), yellow clover aphid (Therioaphis trifolii), meadow spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius), clover seed midge (Dasineura leguminicola) clover leafhopper (Aceratagallia sanguinolenta), and pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum). "No practical controls of these insects are available."

Red clover is pollinated by honeybees and bumblebees.  [WWW-33]
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Red clover is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants).  [WWW-180]

Estrogenic disorders have been reported in cattle grazing largely on red clover, apparently due to activity of the isoflavones formononetin, biochanin A, and to some small extent daidzein and genistein. the flowers contain a number of phenolic compounds: daidzein, genistein, isotrifolin, isorhamnetin, pratol, pratensol, trifolin, and an antifungal compound trifolirhizin. They also contain coumaric acid, hentriacontane, heptacosane, myricyl alcohol, and b-sitosterol. On a dry basis flowers yield 0.028% of an oil containing furfural. Seeds are reported to contain trypsin inhibitors and chymotrypsin inhibitors.  [WWW-33]

Green forage of red clover (fresh matter) is reported to contain: 81% moisture, 4.0% protein, 0.7% fat, 2.6% fiber, 2.0% ash. Hay of red clover contains 12.0% moisture, 11.8% protein, 2.6% fat, 27.2% fiber, and 6.4% ash.  [WWW-33]

On the basis of more than 500 analyses, Miller (1958) reported the hay contained on a moisture free basis: 8.3-24.7% protein (avg 14.9%), 1.0-6.6% fat (avg. 2.9%), 12.5-39.3% crude fiber (avg. 30.1%), 3.1-14.0% ash (avg. 7.9), and 33.4-59.1% N-free extract (avg. 44.2). For green red clover forage he reported 12.4-34.87. protein (avg. 18.2), 3.2-5.9% fat (avg. 4.0%), 12.7-30.8% crude fiber (avg. 24.2), 7.0-13.6% ash (avg. 8.8), and 37.1-49.7% N-free extract (avg. 44.8%).  [WWW-33]

With regards to the mineral content, the hay (dry matter averaging 87.7%) contained 0.97-2.29% Ca (avg. 1.61), 0.09-0.45% P (avg. 0.22), 0.57-2.67% K (avg. 17.6%), 0.24-0.81% Mg (avg. 0.45%), 0.001-0.185% Fe (avg. 0.013%), 9.9-17.6 ppm Cu (avg. 11.2 ppm), and 24.9-120.8 ppm Mn (avg. 65.6). The green forage contained 0.58-3.21% Ca (avg. 1.76), 0.24-0.53% P (avg. 0.29), 1.49-2.94% K (avg. 2.10%), 0.36-0.57% Mg (avg. 0.45), 0.016-0.032% Fe (avg. 0.03), 7.3-10-3 ppm Cu (avg. 8.8 ppm), 121-464 ppm Mn (avg. 159 ppm).  [WWW-33]

The leaf-protein concentrate (59% protein) contains 6.4% arginine, 2.5% histidine, 5.4% threonine, 1.7% tryptophan, 9.5% leucine, 5.3% isoleucine, 1.7% methionine, 6.87. lysine, 6.1% phenylalanine, and 6.8%. valine.  [WWW-33]
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Energy Yield Statistics

Duke's phytomass files cite Dry Matter (DM) yields of 6-19 MT from such places as Romania, Switzerland, and the USSR. Finnish DM yields for 390 cvs ranged from 0.2-11.8 MT/ha (Ravantti, 1980). Belgians got 7 MT/ha from pure clover, nearly 13 MT intercropped with grasses (Andries, 1982). In Michigan, red clover cvs averaged 6.5-7.4 MT/ha compared with 10.3 for alfalfa and 6.2 for birdsfoot trefoil. Most of these figures are experiments. Taylor and Smith (1981) suggest that production yields, even in the US are lower: red clover with timothy yield about 21.5 million MT per year or closer to 4 MT/ha, pure red clover closer to 3 MT.  [WWW-33]

It is estimated that red clover will provide 125-200 kg/ha N for use by subsequent crops. Taylor and Smith tabulate data suggesting that it takes ca 50,000 million Btu to produce 1 kg beef on feed lot pink clover, 45,000 million on haylage, and 40,000 million on grazing/feeding, the biggest, input, fertilizer being the biggest energetic input (ca 450 million Btu for lime, 540 for fertilizer), fuel (200 million for pasture, 420 for feedlot), and ca 130-230 million Btu for machinery, manufacture, transport, and repairs. Even residues are estimated at ca 4 MT/ha by Kvech (1979).  [WWW-33]

Reducing Kvech's numbers by 10% to convert approximately to DM yields for residues, we have the following figures for Kourim, Czechoslovakia, rounded to the nearest MT: Medicago sativa, 7; Trifolium pratense, 4; Vicia faba, 4; Avena sativa, 3; Lolium perenne, 3; Secale cereale, 3; Trifolium repens, 3; Triticum aestivum, 3; Brassica rapa, 2; Hordeum vulgare, 2; Phacelia tanacetifolia, 2; Beta vulgaris, 1; Sinapis alba, 1; Solanum tuberosum, 1. Yields of other clover species reported in the Phytomass File are 2-11 for T. alexandrinum, 4-5 for T. hirtum, 7 for T. hybridum, 12-52 for T. incarnatum, 2-7 for T. repens, 9-11 for T. resupinatum, 8-13 for T. subterraneum, and 2 for T. vesiculosum. The USDA (1983) reported yields of 0.5-52 MT DM/ha/yr with N-fixation of 46-418 kg in T. incarnatum.  [WWW-33]
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Active constituents and phytochemicals of Red clover.

Phyto-chemicals in brief according to  [WWW-180] : Caffeic acid, silicic acid, salicylic acid, coumarins, genestein, daidzein, sistosterol .

Red clover is considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants). It is used for hot flashes/flushes, PMS, lowering cholesterol, breast enhancement and breast health, improving urine production and improving circulation of the blood. It is also used to help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the possibility of blood clots and arterial plaques and limiting the development of benign prostate hyperplasia. Red clover is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red clover is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants).  [WWW-180]

Red clover contains approximately 0.17 percent phytoestrogens. These include formononetin, genistein ,daidzein, and biochanin A. A volatile oil in the blossoms contains methyl salicylate, among other constituents. Some coumarin derivatives and cyanogenic glycosides have also been isolated. Primary chemical constituents of Red Clover include phenolic glycosides (salicylic acid), essential oil (methyl salicylate), sitosterol,genistein,flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, cyanogenic glycosides, silica, choline, and lecithin. Red Clover also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, calcium, chromium, iron, and magnesium.  [WWW-180]

Constituents of Red Clove in brief:
Phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, glycosides, mineral acids,carbohydrates, phenolic glycosides (including trifoliin), isoflavonoids, flavonoids, saponins, salicylates, coumarins, cyanogenic glycosides, volatile oil, fats, mineral acids, resin, vitamins  [WWW-180]

The list below is a complete list of chemical constituents found in Red Clover. Those which are present in relitavely high concentrations are matked as ppm (parts per million)  [WWW-66]

ALLANTOIN Sprout Seedling:
ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL Inflorescence 126 - 400 ppm

ALUMINUM Flower 137 ppm;
ASCORBIC-ACID Flower 2,966 ppm;
ASH Flower 85,000 ppm; Seed 41,000 ppm; Shoot 79,000 ppm;
BETA-CAROTENE Flower 12 ppm;
BIOCHANIN-A Flower: Plant 8,000 ppm;
BORON Leaf 23 ppm; Stem 16 ppm;
CALCIUM Flower 13,100 ppm; Shoot 4,800 - 22,900 ppm

CARBOHYDRATES Flower 763,000 ppm; Shoot 743,000 ppm;
CHROMIUM Flower 32 ppm;
COBALT Flower 18 ppm;
COPPER Hay 7 - 18 ppm

EO Flower 280 ppm;
FAT Flower 36,000 ppm; Seed 85,000 ppm; Shoot 11,000 - 36,000 ppm

FIBER Flower 99,000 ppm; Shoot 77,000 - 301,000 ppm

FORMONONETIN Flower: Plant 800 - 7,000 ppm

GENISTEIN Leaf: Plant:
IONONE Flower:
IRON Flower 0.35 ppm; Shoot 10 - 1,850 ppm

MAGNESIUM Flower 3,490 ppm; Hay 2,400 - 8,100 ppm

MANGANESE Flower 59 ppm; Hay 25 - 464 ppm

MOLYBDENUM Stem 0.15 ppm;
NIACIN Flower 125 ppm;
PHOSPHORUS Flower 3,220 ppm; Shoot 900 - 4,500 ppm

POTASSIUM Flower 20,000 ppm; Shoot 5,400 - 26,700 ppm

PRATOL Flower:
PROTEIN Flower 115,000 ppm; Seed 360,000 - 380,000 ppm Shoot 41,000 - 280,000 ppm

RESIN Plant:
RIBOFLAVIN Flower 3.3 ppm;
SELENIUM Flower 7.7 ppm; Leaf 0.024 ppm; Stem 0.018 ppm;
SILICON Flower 12 ppm;
SODIUM Flower 160 ppm;
THIAMIN Flower 4.2 ppm;
TIN Flower 25 ppm;
WATER Flower 823,000 ppm;
ZINC Flower:
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History and past uses of Red Clover:

Ancients called it Triphyllon, meaning "three leaves". This term also relates to the common name, Clover, which stems from "clava", meaning "three-leaved". The three leaves were said to correspond to the triad goddesses of Mythology, and later to the Trinity in Christianity.  [WWW-180]

The three-lobed leaves were associated with the Holy Trinity by mediaeval Christians. Although red clover is a native European plant, it was not until it became naturalised in North America and the Native Americans had discovered its medicinal properties that it was recognised as a medicine in Europe.  [WWW-180]
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Folk Medicine

Said to be used for: alterative, antiscrofulous, antispasmodic, aperient, athlete's foot, bronchitis, burns, cancer, constipation, diuretic, expectorant, gall-bladder, gout, liver, pertussis, rheumatism, sedative, skin, sores, tonic, and ulcers. Flowers have been used as a sedative. Russians recommend the herb for bronchial asthma. Chinese take the floral tea as an expectorant. Kloss recommends that every family "stash" red clover blossoms, gathered in summer, and dried on paper in shade. "Use this tea in place of tea and coffee and you will have splendid results." This is one of Kloss' diets that doesn't offend me. Pages have been devoted to the anticancer activity of the floral tea, a remedy not yet tested by the National Cancer Institute. Herbals recommend clover for bronchitis, leprosy, pertussis, spasms, and syphilis. Jason Winters tea, containing red clover and chaparral and some unidentified secret spice, sells at rather high prices as a "cancer cure" (Duke, 1984b).  [WWW-33]

Red clover has been used for relieving coughing, skin problems, and for preventing symptoms caused by menopause/"change of life" (e.g., hot flashes, trouble sleeping). Some herbal/diet supplement products have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives.  [WWW-181]

Traditional Chinese medicine and Western folk medicine used this plant for similar purposes. It was well regarded as a diuretic, a cough suppressant, and an alterative. Alterative plants were considered beneficial for all manner of chronic conditions, particularly those afflicting the skin.  [WWW-180]

Herbalists have long prized this herb for it's traditional use as a blood purifier, expelling toxins from the bloodstream. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, the white crescentic 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 flowers were a popular anti-cancer remedy in the 1930s.  [WWW-180]

Widely introduced and cultivated, it is a very important herb in regard to women's health. It is a sweet, cooling, alterative, phytoestrogenic herb that relaxes spasms and has diuretic and expectorant effects. It is recommended for bronchitis, leprosy, and syphilis. It is used internally for skin complaints (especially for eczema and psoriasis), cancers of the breast, esophagus, ovaries & lymphatic system, chronic degenerative diseases, gout, whooping cough, and dry cough. Clover tea, made from flowering tops, has been used to stimulate liver and gallbladder activity and is taken for constipation and sluggish appetite. A poultice of the plant can be used for athlete's foot and other skin problems.  [WWW-180]

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) Red clover, a wild plant used as grazing food for cattle and other livestock, has also been used medicinally to treat a wide array of conditions. These have included cancer, mastitis (inflammation of the breast), joint disorders, jaundice, bronchitis, spasmodic coughing, asthma, and skin inflammations, such as psoriasis and eczema. Red clover is thought to "purify" the blood by promoting urine and mucous production, improving circulation, and stimulating the secretion of bile. Recently, specific chemicals in red clover -- known as isoflavones -- have been isolated and tested for their effectiveness in treating a variety of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and the symptoms of menopause such as low HDL, hot flashes and the bone loss associated with osteoporosis.  [WWW-180]

Red clover has been cultivated since ancient times, primarily to provide a favorite grazing food for animals. But, like many other herbs, red clover was also a valued medicine. Although it has been used for many purposes worldwide, the one condition most consistently associated with red clover is cancer. Chinese physicians and Russian folk healers also used it to treat respiratory problems.  [WWW-182]

In the nineteenth century, red clover became popular among herbalists as an "alterative" or "blood purifier." This medical term, long since defunct, refers to an ancient belief that toxins in the blood are the root cause of many illnesses. Cancer, eczema, and the eruptions of venereal disease were all seen as manifestations of toxic buildup.  [WWW-182]
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Medicinal Uses

The plant has the following medicinal properties according to reference:    [WWW-66] .
Alterative A medicine or treatment which gradually induces a change in order to cure or restore to health     [WWW-32]
Anti-cancer Used in the treatment of cancer; "anticancer drug"; "an antineoplastic effect".     [WWW-32]
Anti-Scrophulatic Counter acts Scrofula - a form of tuberculosis characterized by swellings of the lymphatic glands     [WWW-32]
Anti-Spasmodic Used to relieve or prevent spasms (especially of the smooth muscles)     [WWW-32]
Anti-Tussive Used to suppress or relieve coughing.     [WWW-32]
Aperient A purging medicine; stimulates evacuation of the bowels     [WWW-32]
Asthma A respiratory disorder characterized by wheezing; usually of allergic origin     [WWW-32]
Bronchitis An inflammation of the membranes lining the bronchial tubes     [WWW-32]
Burn (skin) Damage to the skin by fire or hot surfaces.
Cathartic Cleansing the bowels; promoting evacuations by stool; purgative.     [WWW-32]
Corn A hard thickening of the skin (especially on the top or sides of the toes) caused by the pressure of ill-fitting shoes     [WWW-32]
Depurative An agent which is able of Purifying the blood or the humors (body fluids)     [WWW-32]
Diuretic Tending to increase the secretion and discharge of urine.     [WWW-32]
Dyspepsia A disorder of digestive function characterized by discomfort or heartburn or nausea     [WWW-32]
Expectorant Used to induce the ejection of mucus, phlegm, and other fluids from the lungs and air passages by coughing or spitting.     [WWW-32]
Eye Promotes good health of the eye
Pertussis A disease of the respiratory mucous membrane     [WWW-32]
Sedative Used for making drowsy or sooth a patient, but not strong enough to induce sleep     [271]
Skin Promotes good health of the skin
Sore An open skin infection     [WWW-32]
Tonic A medicine that strengthens and invigorates hence restores normal tone to tissues or to stimulate the appetite.     [WWW-32]
Tumor Used to treat tumors which are an abnormal mass of tissue that results from excessive cell division that is uncontrolled and progressive, also called a neoplasm. Tumours perform no useful body function. They may be either benign (not cancerous) or malignant.     [WWW-57]
Whitlow A purulent infection at the end of a finger or toe in the area surrounding the nail     [WWW-32]

Red clover is safe and effective herb with a long history of medicinal usage. It is commonly used to treat skin conditions, normally in combination with other purifying herbs such as Arctium lappa and Rumex crispus  [254]. It is a folk remedy for cancer of the breast, a concentrated decoction being applied to the site of the tumour in order to encourage it to grow outwards and clear the body  [254]. Flavonoids in the flowers and leaves are oestrogenic and may be of benefit in the treatment of menopausal complaints  [254].

The flowering heads are alterative, antiscrofulous, antispasmodic, aperient, detergent, diuretic, expectorant, sedative and tonic  [4, 21, 165, 218, 238]. It has also shown anticancer activity  [172, 218], poultices of the herb have been used as local applications to cancerous growths  [4]. Internally, the plant is used in the treatment of skin complaints (especially eczema and psoriasis), cancers of the breast, ovaries and lymphatic system, chronic degenerative diseases, gout, whooping cough and dry coughs  [238]. The plant is normally harvested for use as it comes into flower  [222, 238] and some reports say that only the flowers are used  [4].

The toxic indolizidine alkaloid 'slaframine' is often found in diseased clover (even if the clover shows no external symptoms of disease). This alkaloid is being studied for its antidiabetic and anti-AIDS activity  [222].

Clover is said to be alterative and antispasmodic in action. It's main action, used in a tea or syrup, is sedative for whooping cough. The dried flowers have been considered official in pharmaceutical preparations. The British utilize it as a dermatologic agent and an expectorant. A cup of the infusion is supposed to improve the appetite. The infusion used as a wash or made into a salve is used for skin ulcers and skin sores. The tea has also been thought to be be good for liver ailments. Specific diseases include eczema and psoriasis  [WWW-165].

The isoflavones and phytoestrogens from Red Clover have been used to treat the symptoms of menopause according to  [WWW-60] while  [WWW-182] states that studies showed no evidence of this (paragraph related to this is found further down). Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should avoid ingesting Red Clover. It has also been reported that red clover can be used for therapeutic purposes for coughs, bronchitis, eczema, sores, scrofula and can be gargled for mouth ulcers and sore throats.  [WWW-60]

Red clover is sometimes recommended for the treatment of acne , eczema , psoriasis , and other skin diseases.  [WWW-182]

Uses according  [WWW-180] are: Hot flashes/flushes, PMS, Lowers cholesterol, helps prevent osteoporosis, reduces possibility of forming blood clots and arterial plaques, can limit development of benign prostate hyperplasia. Breast enhancement and breast health. Improve urine production, circulation of the blood and secretion of bile. Extracts of Trifolium pratense also act as detergent, sedative and tonic. Red clover has the ability to loosen phlegm and calm bronchial spasms. The fluid extract of red clover is used as an antispasmodic and alterative.

Additionally,  [WWW-180] states the red clover is Indicated for assisting in preventing endometrial cancer in women and limiting prostate cancer in men. Preventing Heart Disease. Quitting smoking.

Common Action according to  [WWW-180]: The plants flowers are traditionally used as an alternative (cleansing waste material), antispasmodic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, possible oestrogenic activity,Sedative dermatological agent, alterative, expectorant, mildly antispasmodic, relaxant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, possibly oestrogenic.

Indications according to  [WWW-180] are: anti-cancer remedy,blood purifier, chronic skin disease,Used for eczema, psoriasis, cancer (breast, ovarian, lymphatic system), gout, dry cough, menopausal problems,Cooling/Detoxifying Herb for Heat patterns, whooping cough,stimulates eostrogenic,women health banlancer,increasing fertility, Red Clover has traditionally been used internally for skin conditions, especially eczema and psoriasis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or lymphatic cancer, chronic degenerative diseases, gout, whooping cough, and dry cough. It may relax muscle spasms

Red Clover can help against infections from Lyme Disease, cleanses the bloodstream and is a good tonic. It was found useful in those suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)and a Red Clover tincture has long been a treatment for whooping cough and bronchitis.  [WWW-184]

Red Clover is also mentioned to have beneficial effects in Uro-Genital problems. For female infertility, Red clover blossom may act as a female fertility enhancer. It contains several estrogen-like compounds which may promote fertility in estrogen-deficient women.  [397]

Menopausal Issues Red clover extract (80mg per day of isoflavones for a 12-month period) reduced the number of hot flashes in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 30 women who had not had a period for over 12 months and were experiencing more than five hot flashes per day.  [396]

The expectorant and antispasmodic actions of this remedy give it a role in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis, but particularly in whooping cough. A syrup made from the infusion relieves stubborn, dry coughs. The fresh, crushed flowers can be applied to bites and stings; 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.  [WWW-180]

The expectorant and anti-spasmodic action give this remedy a role in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis, but especially in whooping cough, dry cough and colds. Red Clover also increases the production of mucus and urine flow helping relieve irritation and inflammation of the urinary tract. As a digestive aid, Red Clover stimulates the production of digestive fluids and bile. It also relieves constipation and helps soothe inflammation of the bowel, stomach and intestines. Red Clover contains easily absorbed calcium & magnesium which tones and relaxes the nervous system, relieving tension due to stress and the associated headaches which are further relieved by the silicic acid content. Clinical evidence shows that there is a basis for it's long standing tradition in treating cancer and it's anti-microbial properties have been proven effective against tuberculosis.  [WWW-180]
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Cardiovascular Health:Prevention of heart disease:Osteoporosis:Effects on Cancer: Management Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH):

Cardiovascular Health:

Menopause increases a woman's risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Supplementation with red clover isoflavones has been associated with a sizeable increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol in pre- and postmenopausal women, leading some researchers to believe that these isoflavones may help protect against cardiovascular disease. Other studies, however, have refuted this finding. Interestingly, one recent study found that menopausal women taking red clover supplements experienced a significant improvement in arterial compliance (a measure of the strength and resilience of the arterial walls). Arterial compliance diminishes during menopause and may increase a woman's risk for heart disease.  [WWW-180]
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Prevention of heart disease:

It is believed that red clover may help to prevent heart disease in several ways. Although results from human studies are not definite, some show that taking red clover may lower the levels of 'bad' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and raise the levels of 'good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body. In addition, red clover may also promote an increase in the secretion of bile acid. Because cholesterol is a major component of bile acid, increased bile acid production usually means that more cholesterol is used and less cholesterol circulates in the body. Additionally, red clover contains small amounts of chemicals known as coumarins, which may help keep the blood from becoming thick and gummy. Therefore, the possibility of forming blood clots and arterial plaques may be reduced. Plaques are accumulations of blood cells, fats, and other substances that may build up in blood vessels, possibly reducing or blocking blood flow. Red clover may also help the arteries remain strong and flexible (a quality often called 'arterial compliance'), which may also help to prevent some of the plaque deposits that may lead to a heart attack or a stroke.  [WWW-180]  [WWW-49]
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Menopause increases a woman's risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss). Some studies suggest that a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre- and perimenopausal women.  [WWW-180]

Taking red clover has been shown to help delay osteoporosis in women who have not yet reached menopause. The estrogen-like effect of red clover isoflavones may be involved, and red clover also may have a direct effect by preventing the breakdown of existing bone. However, this possible bone-strengthening effect has not been seen in men or post-menopausal women.
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Effects on Cancer:

The isoflavones isolated from red clover have been studied for their effectiveness in treating some forms of cancer. It is thought that the isoflavones prevent the proliferation of cancer cells and that they may even destroy cancer cells. Laboratory and animal studies have found that red clover isoflavones may protect against the growth of breast cancer cells. This is surprising because estrogens (and isoflavones have estrogenic properties) have generally been thought to stimulate the growth of breast cancer in women. Until further research has been conducted and more information is available, the use of red clover isoflavones or other red clover products should probably be avoided in women with a history of breast cancer.  [WWW-180]
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Management Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH):

Red clover may also block enzymes thought to contribute to prostate cancer in men. It has shown a definite limiting effect, however, in the development of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. An enlarged prostate may cause men to experience a weak or interrupted urine stream, dribbling after urinating, or the urge to urinate even after voiding. For most men, BPH is a normal part of aging.  [WWW-180]  [WWW-49]
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Red Clover used as good Female Tonic:

Red clover contains high amounts of isoflavone compounds, such as genistein, which have weak oestrogen properties. Research on both red clover and soya isoflavones is currently looking at their action as potential alternatives to oestrogen in menopausal women. A double-blind study found that menopausal women had improved function of their arteries while taking red clover extract compared to placebo.  [WWW-180]

This could mean menopausal women would have less trouble with high blood pressure or atherosclerosis, though more study is required to be certain. Various laboratory studies show isoflavones may help prevent cancer. In one case study, use of red clover by a man with prostate cancer led to noticeable anticancer effects in his prostate after the cancer was surgically removed.  [WWW-180]

Although the isoflavones in red clover may help prevent certain forms of cancer (e.g., breast and prostate), more clinical studies are needed before red clover is recommended for cancer patients. The mechanism of action and responsible constituents for its purported benefit in skin conditions is unknown.  [WWW-180]

The use of red clover extract as a supplement for menopausal women has gained attention through the marketing of an Australian product called Promensil. These pills, introduced in the United States in 1998, contain 40 mg each of isoflavones, in a standardized ratio. Most of the research supporting red clover isoflavones has been conducted in Australia. The same firm markets a red clover supplement called Trinivin, also containing 40 mg standardized isoflavones, for men with healthy but enlarged prostates. According to the studies conducted by the manufacturer, Novogen, red clover isoflavones are capable of suppressing hot flashes in perimenopausal women without leading to proliferation in uterine (endometrial) tissue.  [WWW-180]

A double-blind controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (March 1999) demonstrated that red clover isoflavones help keep large blood vessels pliable. Several studies of a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones suggest that it may significantly reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Also, menopause increases a woman's risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss) and some studies suggest that a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and peri-menopausal women. The estrogen-like effect of red clover isoflavones may be involved, and red clover also may have a direct effect by preventing the breakdown of existing bone.  [WWW-180]
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Red Clover in skin remedy:

Red Clover is one of the most useful remedies for children with skin problems. Because it is mild, it makes an excellent nutritional supplement for children. This is an excellent remedy for children with skin problems and may be safely used in any case of childhood eczema. It is of particular benefit for children with eczema/asthma syndrome. It is also of value in other chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis. There is some evidence to suggest an antineoplastic action in animals and it has been used in the treatment of cancers, especially of the breasts and ovaries.  [WWW-180]

Red clover is used to treat skin conditions, normally in combination with other purifying herbs such as burdock (Arctium lappa) and yellow dock (Rumex crispus). Red clover is also expectorant and may be used for spasmodic coughs. Red clover's estrogenic effect may be of use in treating menopausal complaints.  [WWW-180]

For women, Red Clover is quite special. It contains stilbene which stimulates eostrogenic activity, thus increasing fertility, and reduces "hot flashes" experienced by women during menopause. It also supports the uterus with it's vitamin content, and the high protein content nourishes the whole body. There is also an alkalizing effect which improves the vaginal and uterine acid/alkaline balance.  [WWW-180]

Topical red clover preparations are used to treat various types of skin conditions. In folk medicine, fresh red clover flowers have been chopped or mashed and applied directly to skin wounds such as insect or reptile bites. More recently, creams, lotions, or ointments containing red clover extract have been studied for treating psoriasis and other skin conditions. While all of these results need further documentation, animal studies have shown that red clover preparations may also protect skin against sunburn and damage caused by exposure to sunlight.  [WWW-49]
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Effects on "Hot Flashes":

Several studies of a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones suggest that it may significantly reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Also, menopause increases a woman's risk for developing osteoporosis (significant bone loss) and some studies suggest that a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones may slow bone loss and even boost bone mineral density in pre and peri-menopausal women. The estrogen-like effect of red clover isoflavones may be involved, and red clover also may have a direct effect by preventing the breakdown of existing bone. However, this possible bone-strengthening effect has not been seen in men and post-menopausal women.  [WWW-180]
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Relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS):

Because it contains chemicals called isoflavones, which belong to a larger class of plant chemicals known as phyto (plant-derived) estrogens, red clover is often taken to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Isoflavones are similar in shape to the female hormone, estrogen. Therefore, they may attach to estrogen receptors throughout the body particularly in the bladder, blood vessels, bones, and heart.  [WWW-180]
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Relieving estrogen-related symptoms:

For women with normal estrogen levels, red clover isoflavones may displace some natural estrogens, possibly preventing or relieving estrogen-related symptoms, such as breast pain, that are associated with PMS. This effect may also reduce the possibility of developing estrogen-dependent cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). In addition, results from a review of nearly 1000 women suggest that red clover may interfere with an enzyme known to promote the progression of endometrial cancer.  [WWW-180]
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While not all studies are thoroughly convincing, several studies of a proprietary extract of red clover isoflavones suggest that it may significantly reduce hot flashes in menopausal women.  [WWW-180]
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Effects of Isoflavones from Trifolium pratense (Red Clover):

Recently, special red clover extracts high in substances called isoflavones have arrived on the market. These isoflavones produce effects in the body somewhat similar to those of estrogen, and for this reason they are called phytoestrogens ("phyto" indicates a plant source). The major isoflavones in red clover include genistein and daidzen, also found in soy, as well as formononetin and biochanin.  [WWW-182]

Four isoflavones found in red clover blossoms, formononetin, biochanin A, daidzein and genistein, do have mild estrogenic activity. This perceived effect has resulted in the introduction of a widely advertised red clover blossom dietary supplement product from Australia as a "natural choice for maintaining estrogen." Clinical studies to support these claims are apparently under way. The isoflavones found in red clover, and more common food sources such as soy beans, may alter hormone production or metabolism, intracellular enzymes, cell differentiation and production, and growth factors. Epidemiological studies suggest potential value of isoflavones in chemoprevention (cancer prevention), in Asian countries where soy products, rich in isoflavones, are widely consumed. A recent in vitro study found that biochanin A from red clover inhibited carcinogen activation in cell cultures, suggesting the need for further studies.  [WWW-180]

Evidence is inconsistent on whether red clover isoflavones are helpful for menopausal hot flashes with the largest trial failing to find benefits. A small and poorly reported double-blind, placebo-controlled study provides weak evidence that red clover isoflavones might be helpful for cyclic mastalgia.

Although soy and, possibly, soy isoflavones have been found to reduce cholesterol levels, two trials enrolling a total of over 100 women failed to find red clover isoflavones helpful for this purpose. However, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled comparative study of 80 people (both men and women), a red clover extract modified to be rich in biochanin did reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol, while one enriched in formononetin did not.  [WWW-182]

One very small double-blind study found hints that red clover isoflavones might slightly improve blood pressure in post-menopausal women with diabetes. Preliminary evidence suggests that red clover isoflavones may help prevent or treat osteoporosis. In a 6-month, double-blind study, use of red clover isoflavones failed to enhance or harm mental function .

There is no evidence that red clover can help treat cancer. However, its usage in many parts of the world as a traditional cancer remedy has prompted scientists to take a close look at the herb. It turns out that the isoflavones in red clover may possess antitumor activity in the test tube. However, such preliminary research does not prove that red clover can treat cancer.  [WWW-182]

In a 12-week, double-blind, placebo controlled trial of 30 post-menopausal women, use of red clover isoflavones at a dose of 80 mg daily significantly reduced hot flash symptoms as compared to placebo. Benefits were also seen in a 90 day study of 60 postmenopausal women given placebo or 80mg of red clover isoflavones. However, a much larger study (252 participants) failed to find benefit with 82 or 57 mg of red clover isoflavones daily.  [WWW-182]

Two other studies also failed to find benefit. One, a 28-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study of 51 post-menopausal women, found no reduction in hot flashes among those given 40 mg of red clover isoflavones daily. 1 No benefits were seen in another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, which involved 37 women given isoflavones from red clover at a dose of either 40 or 160 mg daily.  [WWW-182]

In post-menopausal women, who generally have low blood levels of estrogen, red clover may act as hormone replacement, thereby relieving some menopause symptoms that are associated with low estrogen levels. Clinical studies have been inconclusive, however, in determining whether or not red clover isoflavones are effective at relieving hot flashes associated with menopause. Some study participants experienced various degrees of relief from hot flashes, while others observed no change. In addition, red clover isoflavones may actually cause some types of existing breast tumors to grow faster. Before red clover can be recommended for use, more studies are needed to determine whether it has any effects on cancer or the symptoms of menopause and PMS.  [WWW-49]
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Drug Interactions Summary for Red Clover,Case Study:

Here is a list of medications that may interact with red clover.  [WWW-180]

Oestrogens (Reduced drug absorption/bioavailability *), Heparin (Adverse interaction *), Ticlopidine (Adverse interaction *), Warfarin (Adverse interaction *), Case Study:Long-term pharmacokinetics of an extract of isoflavones from red clover(Trifolium pratense). Objectives: To study the pharmacokinetics of isoflavones from red clover(Trifolium pratense) after long-term administration as a once-daily dietarysupplementary.  [WWW-180]

Design: Fourteen (14) subjects who had been consuming alow-isoflavone diet for 2 weeks were given an oral dose of two isoflavonetablets (approximately 80 mg of total isoflavones) daily for 2 weeks andappeared for a study day at 9:00 AM after an overnight fast on the day that theywere to receive the last dose. Plasma samples were collected for a 48-hourperiod after the last dose. Plasma isoflavones were assayed by high-performanceliquid chromatography (HPLC). RESULTS: Trough plasma levels were significantlyhigher for daidzein and genistein after long-term dosing than levels taken priorto the commencement of the study and plasma levels of isoflavones afterlong-term dosing were in the range previously reported in populations thatconsume an isoflavone-rich diet. The plasma half-lives observed after long-termadministration were, in most cases, consistent with once-daily administration.  [WWW-180]

Conclusions: Isoflavones have pharmacokinetic characteristics that suggest thatonce-daily administration is adequate when they are administered long-term asdietary supplements.  [WWW-180]

If one is taking hormones or blood-thinning drugs -such as Coumadin (warfarin) , heparin , Plavix (clopidogrel), Ticlid (ticlopidine), Trental (pentoxifylline) , or even aspirin - red clover should be used only under a physician's supervision.  [WWW-182]
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Diseased clover, even if no symptoms of disease are visible, can contain the toxic indolizidine alkaloid 'slaframine' .  [222].

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.  [WWW-180]

Acute Toxicity of Trifolium pratense:
LD50.lethal dose,(50 percent death). Intraperitoneal.Mice.4237 mg/kg.  [WWW-180]

Trifolium pratense contains phytoestrogens and thus it has estrogenic activity.Estrogen has an important role in the development of the reproductive system and the maintanence of its function,and for this reason the effect of Trifolium pratense on sperm parameters and spermatogenesis was examined.Furthermore,its acute toxicity was established.  [WWW-180]

In this study,the motility and morphology of epididymal spermatozoa taken from animals fed diets contains 20% and 40% Trifolium pratense.Were affected.Statistically insignificant differences in the diameter of the seminiferous tubule and the number of primary spermatocytes between the control and experimental groups were observed.Intraperitoneal LD50 was found to be 4237 mg/kg.These findings indicate that this plant has low toxicity but negative effects on sperm parameters.  [WWW-180]

Because the estrogen-like chemicals it contains may have caused abnormal fetal development in animal studies, taking red clover is not recommended for pregnant women. Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus should not take red clover due to its possible estrogenic effects. Men with prostate cancer should also avoid taking red clover, unless a doctor recommends using it. Very little information is available on how red clover might affect an infant or a small child. Therefore, its use is not recommended while breast-feeding or during early childhood.  [WWW-180]

Red clover is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, and is included in many beverage teas. However, detailed safety studies have not been performed.  [WWW-182]

Because of its blood-thinning and estrogen-like constituents, red clover should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, or women who have had breast or uterine cancer. Safety in young children or those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.  [WWW-182]

Based on their constituents, red clover extracts may conceivably interfere with hormone treatments and anticoagulant drugs (see next section for specific drugs).  [WWW-182]

One double-blind study of post-menopausal women found the use of red clover isoflavones at a dose of 80 mg daily for ninety days resulted in increased levels of testosterone. The potential significance of this is unclear. The same study found that red clover isoflavones reduced the thickness of the uterine lining, a finding that suggests low possibility for endometrial cancer.  [WWW-182]

Because red clover's estrogen-like chemicals may have caused abnormalities in babies born during studies of pregnant laboratory animals, taking red clover is not recommended for pregnant women.  [WWW-49]

Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus should not take red clover due to its possible estrogenic effects. Men with prostate cancer should also avoid taking red clover, unless a doctor recommends using it.  [WWW-49]
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Dosage guide of Red Clover:

General guidelines are as follows,and different according to cases  [WWW-180]: Usually, red clover is taken as a tea by adding 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water to 2 - 3 teaspoons of dried flowers and steeping, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes. Three cups can be drunk each day. Red clover can also be used in capsule or tablet form in the amount of 2-4 grams of the dried flowers or 2-4 ml of tincture three times per day. Dried red clover tops are also available in capsules, tablets, and tinctures.

Dried herb (used for tea): 1 to 2 tsp dried flowers or flowering tops steeped in 8 oz hot water for 1/2 hour; take 2 to 3 cups daily Powdered herb (available in capsules): 2 to 6 capsules (500 mg each) per day

Tincture (1:5, 30% alcohol): 60 to 100 drops (3 to 5 mL) three times per day; may add to hot water as a tea Fluid Extract (1:1): 1 mL three times per day; may add to hot water as a tea

Standardized red clover isoflavone extracts: directions on product labels should be carefully followed Topical treatment (such as for psoriasis or eczema): an infusion, liquid extract, or ointment containing 10 to 15% flowerheads

As mentioned above, isolated red clover isoflavones have shown promise in the treatment of a variety of conditions. It is important to remember, however, that extracts of red clover isoflavones are very different from the whole herb -- in fact, they represent only a small portion of the entire herb in a highly concentrated form.  [WWW-180]

A typical dosage of red clover extract provides 40 to 160 mg of isoflavones daily. In the positive study described above, 80 mg daily were sufficient to reduce menopausal hot flashes.  [WWW-182]
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Other Short notes:

  1. Occurs primarily in the east third, but found scattered to the west.  [WWW-183]
  2. Found in fields, pastures, waste places, and along roadsides. Prefers heavy, fertile, well-drained soils that are high in lime.  [WWW-183]
  3. Red clover was introduced from Europe some 200 years ago, and is now widespread in the U.S.  [WWW-183]
  4. The flower head is composed of up to 125 florets.  [WWW-183]
  5. The large, palmately trifoliolate leaves display a prominent spot.  [WWW-183]
  6. Red clover produces good quality hay and pasture, and is used in crop rotations and for soil improvement.  [WWW-183]
  7. It is relished by livestock, but over-consumption can cause bloat and diarrhea.  [WWW-183]
  8. Some Native American tribes are recorded to have used infusions of red clover to treat fevers and stomach cancer.  [WWW-183]

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Other Curious Facts:

  1. 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  [200]. Buttercups growing nearby depress the growth of the nitrogen bacteria by means of a root exudate  [201].
  2. It is the national flower of Denmark and the state flower of Vermont.  [Check here]
  3. It is an ingredient of the smoking mixture sold as Spice.
  4. It is also an ingredient in eight-herb essiac tea.

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Personal Observations

The rediscovery of Trifolium pratense in Malta!
While exploring some dry agricultural fields in early Summer, located at the central part of Malta, I observed a clump of unusual trefoil plants. Their large flower heads, their large size and the time that they where in bloom had drawn my attention. The only summer flowering trefoil I was aware of was Trifolium fragiferum, which was definitely not the one in the fields. So I have taken a specimen to show it to local experts.

Edwin Lanfranco, a lecturer of Botany at the University of Malta, had successfully identified the species as Trifolium pratense L. . The big news still had to come: This species was last recorded in mid 19th century (1840's) by Gulia and since it has not been never recorded till that date, the distribution status of this species has been so far marked as either unsustainable or extinct.

The population comprised of some 30 specimens, stretching over an area of 20m across in only one particular field that was cultivated with onions and surprisingly in a state of abandon. This population is most probably re-introduced from imported soil (or soil clumps of imported plants), hay/fodder or seed-feed. It is unlikely that these plants have been carried from neighbouring Italian populations by migratory birds.

Since Trifolium pratense is a self-sowing short-lived perennial, this population can survive and re-establish itself for a longer time, unless the field owner applies pesticide in the next season.  [SM]
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Links & Further literature (1 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Updates in the Flora of the Maltese Islands (Central Mediterranean) Stephen Mifsud  (2007)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Photo Gallery   (24 Images)

Photo of the flower head which is semi-spherical or conical in shape.
Photo of inflorescence, just above the uppermost leaf. The inflorescence does not have a peduncle.
Photo of flower head, a dense spike of purple, zygomorphic flowers. The veined stipule can also be seen in this photo.
The conspicuous and scented inflorescence can be up to 3cm high.
Photo of the buds of the flower-head emerging from conspicuously veined stipules.
Photo of the inflorescence, leaves and stipules.
Another photo of the plant showing detail of the leaves, stipules and flowers.
Photo of the flower-head and fruit. In the fruiting stage, the corolla parts turns brown and pesists (do not drop off) which probably serve as an extra protection to the developping fruit capsule.
Close-up photo of inflorescence showing detail of the individual flowers.
Close-up photo of the corolla, consisting of a standard (largest petal), 2 lateral wings that are slightly diverging and a lower and central keel made up of a pair of petals close to each other.
Close-up photo of corolla showing clearly the divergent wings.
Close up photo of one corolla of the flower head which can have from 30 to 120 flowers.
Photo of the compound leaf which consists of 3 identical leaflets. Basal leaves have long peduncles, unlike upper leaves which have a much shorter one.
Photo of 2 of the 3 leaflets forming the compound leaf. They are oval in shape and have a ciliated margin.
Photo of leaves.
Photo of the decorated stipules of Trifolium pratense. They are pale (or semi-hyaline) and have conspicuous dark veins which are parallel from the base and becomes pinnate branched at the outer margin. They have a long-pointed tip.
Photo showing detail of the stipules and leaves.
Photo of the dark-brown heads, during the fruiting phase.
Photo of a fruiting head. The perianth part is retained, hence it does not drop off but shrinks (and turned dark brown) around the small developing fruit pods below.
Photo of the calyx and a fruit capsule. The calyx have 5 long teeth, of which one is relatively longer. The calyx is about 6mm long (including the teeth).
Photo of the fruit after being expelled out from the calyx. It is about 3mm long.
Photo of 3 fruits, 2 mature and one unripe. When ripe, the fruit have a brown colour with the upper 'cap' having a lighter colour.
Photo of ripe fruit. One of the fruits was forced open to expel the seed out. The fruit is a circumscissile capsule. The 1-2mm seed is egg shaped and reddish brown when fully ripe.