E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Trifolium pratense L.
red clover
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #76525)

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Distribution of Trifolium pratense
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Species Information

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Perennial or biennial herb from a taproot; stems several, ascending to erect, soft-hairy, 20-70 cm tall.
Alternate, palmately compound; leaflets 3 (rarely 4), lance-elliptic to egg-shaped, 2-6 cm long, obscurely toothed, often with a white, crescent-shaped spot towards the base, soft-hairy; stipules narrowly egg-shaped, 1-3 cm long, green-veined, narrowed to a bristle-tip.
Inflorescence a dense, globe-shaped, terminal head of 50 to 200, ascending to spreading, pea-like flowers, the heads 2.5-3.5 cm wide, more or less unstalked, lacking involucres; corollas pink-purple to deep red, 11-20 mm long; calyces 1/2-2/3 as long as the corollas, the tube narrowly bell-shaped, short-hairy on the outside and stiff-hairy in the throat, 10-veined, the teeth needle-like, bristly, the lower 3 about twice as long as the upper 2.
Pods, egg-shaped, about 2 mm long; seeds 2.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry roadsides, fields, meadows and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in BC S of 55o N, rare northward; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Trifolium pratense

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 2 871 2016
Slope Gradient (%) 0 9 65
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 190 352
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(6), BWBS(7), CDF(4), CWH(6), ESSF(3), ICH(30), IDF(68), MS(9), PP(5), SBPS(6), SBS(25)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Trifolium pratense var. frigidum auct. non Gaudin
Trifolium pratense var. sativum (Mill.) Schreb.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References