Trifolium pratense

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This article is about the plant. For other uses, see Red clover (disambiguation).
Trifolium pratense
Trifolium pratense 0522.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Trifolium
Species: T. pratense
Binomial name
Trifolium pratense

Trifolium pratense (red clover[1]) is a species of clover, native to Europe, Western Asia and northwest Africa, but planted and naturalised in many other regions.

It is an herbaceous, short-lived perennial plant, variable in size, growing to 20–80 cm tall. The leaves are alternate, trifoliate (with three leaflets), each leaflet 15–30 mm long and 8–15 mm broad, green with a characteristic pale crescent in the outer half of the leaf; the petiole is 1–4 cm long, with two basal stipules. The flowers are dark pink with a paler base, 12–15 mm long, produced in a dense inflorescence.


Red clover is subject to bacterial as well as fungal diseases. Other problems include parasitic nematodes (roundworms) and viruses.


Trifolium pratense, general aspect

It 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 commonly used to make a sweet-tasting herbal tea.[2] It is an ingredient in some recipes for essiac tea. Trifolium pratense is used in traditional medicine of India as deobstruent, antispasmodic, expectorant, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antidermatosis agent.[3]

Warnings and contraindications[edit]

In alternative medicine, red clover is promoted as a treatment for a variety of human maladies, including coughs, disorders of the lymphatic system and a variety of cancers. However, according to the American Cancer Society, "available clinical evidence does not show that red clover is effective in treating or preventing cancer, menopausal symptoms, or any other medical conditions."[4]

Dietary amounts of red clover are safe, but medicinal quantities may cause rash-like reactions, muscle ache, headache, nausea, vaginal bleeding in women, and slow blood clotting.[5]

Due to its activity on estrogen receptors, red clover is contraindicated in people with a history of breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, or other estrogen-sensitive conditions,[6] but others have suggested the high isoflavone content counteracts this, and even provides benefits in these conditions.[7]

Due to its coumarin derivatives, it should be used in caution in individuals with coagulation disorders or currently undergoing anticoagulation therapy.[8]

It is metabolized by CYP3A4 and therefore caution should be used when taking it with other drugs using this metabolic pathway.[9]


It is the national flower of Denmark[10] and the state flower of Vermont.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  2. ^ "Red Clover Tea". Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  3. ^ Wang, L; Waltenberger, B; Pferschy-Wenzig, EM; Blunder, M; Liu, X; Malainer, C; Blazevic, T; Schwaiger, S; Rollinger, JM; Heiss, EH; Schuster, D; Kopp, B; Bauer, R; Stuppner, H; Dirsch, VM; Atanasov, AG (2014). "Natural product agonists of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ): a review". Biochem Pharmacol 92 (1): 73–89. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2014.07.018. PMID 25083916. 
  4. ^ "Red Clover". American Cancer Society. November 2008. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Red clover, WebMD.
  6. ^ "Influence of marketed herbal menopause preparations on MCF-7 cell proliferation.". Menopause 11 (3): 281–9. 2012-05-24. PMID 15167307. 
  7. ^ Roberts, DW et al. (2004). J Agric Food Chem. 70 (10): 1003–5.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Herbal medication: potential for adverse interactions with analgesic drugs.". J Clin Pharm Ther 27 (6): 391–401. 2012-05-24. PMID 12472978. 
  9. ^ "red clover (Trifolium pratense) Cautions - Epocrates Online". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  10. ^ Other National Symbols - Embassy of Denmark India

External links[edit]