(official name Trifolium pratense
) is a wild plant that many will grow in their gardens too.
Not always red in color - they also come in magenta/purple shades.
In North America this edible plant has traditionally been considered as fodder for livestock and poultry when in other parts of the world, different cultures have used this plant as food and a natural remedy too.
Red clover has a great history...
- Ancient Druids believed that red clover could ward off evil spells and witches.
- Medieval Christians believed that the three-lobbed leaves were associated with the trinity and four-lobbed leaves were a symbol of the cross.
- Traditional Chinese herbalists believe that red clover tea provides a healing tonic for colds, purifies the blood, and can be used to burn as incense.
- Native Americans have used this plant as a salve for burns, as well as to treat respiratory problems.
- Many cultures worldwide have traditionally used red clover to treat whooping cough, breathing problems, psoriasis and eczema.
You can add red clover to your food
With their hint of a bean-like taste, red clover leaves can be used in fresh salads; added to soups, stews and other dishes; included with other greens in a smoothie; or they can be used to make a tea.
The flowers are also very edible and tasty.
Health benefits of red clover
- Red clover is a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and vitamin C.
- Red clover also contains calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium and zinc as well as a source of protein, fat and fiber.
- In addition, red clover is a rich source of phytoestrogens which are high in antioxidants.
- The National Cancer Institute has discovered that red clover contains four phytoestrogens: biochanin-A, formononetin, daidzein, and genistein. The last two can help prevent the growth of cancerous tumors.
- Red clover contains tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) which some studies have linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and cancer.
Eating red clover fresh is best!
But if you want to store the leaves and flowers for winter, harvest them separately and dry at a low temperature in the oven before storing in mason jars for the winter months ahead.
Red clover grows in every US state in all types of places including fields, meadows and gardens. The bees love red clover. You can pick between early summer (before it often dies back in hot summer months) and then again when it comes back late summer, carrying on well into October. Its green leaves have a white or pale green chevron on the upper side of the leaf and they are generally oval, making them more easy to identify.
We have just planted red clover in our allotment as a ground cover which is why I have been finding out all about it.
It is very easy to grow and will attract pollinating bees too.
Looking forward to adding it to our diet during the coming summer.