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Clover - A nutritious edible weed

Updated on September 14, 2014
White clover photographed in a yard in Lynwood.
White clover photographed in a yard in Lynwood. | Source

Clover (part of "Edible Weeds in Los Angeles")

Information, folklore, recipes, and resources -- all about the delicious, nutritious clover plant.

Clover is one of the most famous of weeds, commonly sharing space with grass in lawns.

Clover is viewed by many as having folkloric and religious symbolism, but it can also be viewed as a food!

The types of clover I see most often growing here in Los Angeles are white clover and red clover. This page will look at both of these species.

Field of red clover.
Field of red clover. | Source

Getting acquainted with clover

Clover - Trifolium

The binomial name for white clover is Trifolium repens. Red clover is Trifolium pratense.

All of those are Latin words. Trifolium means "three leaves", repens means "recent, sudden, or fresh", and pratense means "found in meadows."

The clovers are native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. They were introduced to the Americas by settlers. Clover is commonly used as fodder for livestock and is also a valuable soil builder.

A white clover flower, starting to get that little pinkish tinge.
A white clover flower, starting to get that little pinkish tinge. | Source

Identifying clover

The clover, of course, has three leaves. The leaves are oval shaped and often each leaf has a white V on it.

Clover has a distinctive flower with many spiky, upward-reaching petals. White clover start out white, but as the plant ages, the flower may become slightly pink in color. Red clover flowers can be varying shades of pink or even purplish.

Buy clover seeds!

If you don't already have clover, you can grow it on your own!

The word "shamrock" is derived from the Irish word seamróg, which means "clover". White clover is the real Irish shamrock.

A lot of popular images you see for shamrocks show leaves that look more like our friend the wood sorrel, but clover is the real thing.

Clover videos

A couple of videos about red clover.

Source

Nutritional info about clover

I didn't find much in the way of nutrition facts about white clover. All the data I found about white clover described it's nutritional value to livestock, and I'm not sure how that would translate to human nutrition. It is known, however, that it's relatively high in protein.

Red clover has been studied more. It is said to be a good source of calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and vitamin C.

Red clover photographed in a yard in Lynwood
Red clover photographed in a yard in Lynwood | Source

Eating clover

The leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots of clovers are all edible.

The young leaves, taken before the plant flowers, can be eaten raw in salads. As the plant matures, cooking the leaves is recommended. The dried leaves are said to add a slightly vanilla-like flavor to baked goods. In my own experience with clover leaves, I found them to be rather bitter (maybe I picked them at the wrong time). I stick to the flowers.

The roots should be eaten cooked.

The flowers and seeds are the parts of the clover that are of greatest interest to most foragers. The flowers are used raw in salads as well as sauteed, stir-fried, or fried as fritters. They are also popular for making teas and wines.

The flowers and seeds can be dried and ground into a flour.

Here are a few clover recipes:

There used to be a recipe online for snickerdoodle cookies with dried white clover flowers in the batter, but the link has disappeared. So sad.

clover recipes

Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More
Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More

Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More

Authors: Pattie Vargas & Rich Gulling

Recipes are included for both red clover wine and white clover wine.

 

Some cookbooks that include

The African-American Heritage Cookbook: Traditional Recipes and Fond Remembrances From Alabama's Renowned Tuskegee Institute
The African-American Heritage Cookbook: Traditional Recipes and Fond Remembrances From Alabama's Renowned Tuskegee Institute

The African-American Heritage Cookbook: Traditional Recipes and Fond Remembrances from Alabama's Renowned Tuskegee Institute

Author: Carolyn Quick Tillery

Red clover flower heads are featured in a salad recipe called "George W. Carver Salad."

 
Source

Clover folklore

The clover has been regarded as a symbol of luck since ancient times. In the middle ages, it was believed to be able to ward off evil spirits.

It is said that St. Patrick used the three-leaved clover as an illustration in order to teach the Trinity.

A four-leaf clover is said to bring even more good luck than a three-leaved one, guaranteeing success in love, good health, or riches.

A two-leaf clover is supposed to aid young women in learning the identity of their future husbands.

Red clover is associated with more medicinal properties than white clover.
Red clover is associated with more medicinal properties than white clover. | Source

Medicinal uses of clover

White clover infusions have been used medicinally for centuries, especially in response to respiratory complaints.

Red clover is used for respiratory ailments as well, but it is also sought as a remedy for many other conditions. They are used for treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The phytoestrogens in red clover are often used by women looking for natural remedies for menopausal symptoms. Other chemical components in it are thought to be protective against cancer.

Both white and red clover are regarded as blood purifiers.

Herbal books that discuss clover

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    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 2 years ago from Templeton, CA

      You do a great job with your hubs on edible weeds. It's a subject dear to my heart. So many of the poor could have a free source of nutritious organic greens if they would just learn to recognize and use them well.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      I'm not surprised that it is edible. I love natural herbals and wish I had access like I used to. Great lens. Worthy of LotD!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      I learn something all the time here, as I had no idea that glover was edible. Thanks for the informative lens :)

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      though i've used clover honey before, i didn't realize clover was edible. i'll have to give it a try sometime.

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 4 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I had no idea clover was edible. Fascinating.

    • minpinmojo76 profile image

      minpinmojo76 4 years ago

      wow i heard of eating dandelion but not clover, interesting. can't beat free food. great lens

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Amazing! Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      it's great to learn about more edible weeds :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Interesting lens. I am always trying to get it OUT of my yard though.

    • lilantz profile image

      lilantz 4 years ago

      Great share. I have learn a thing or two from here. I didn't know you can actually eat some of the clover.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My daughter and I spent part of the summer looking into edible plants. This was one of the easy to identify plants we knew was safe. Thanks for the great info.

    • Onemargaret LM profile image

      Onemargaret LM 5 years ago

      Wonderful information!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I remember making chains from the flowers as a child. Clover also makes a great cover crop for soil improvement.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Good info, I was just adding some info to my animal Trivia quiz and found out bumblebees were introduced to Australia for only one reason: to pollinate clover! It appears people from England wanted to reproduce their home environment and without clover the feeling just wasn't right. Small world, huh?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you, Joan, for the lovely website. I had no idea some of the common weeds that grow here, too, (Edmonton, Alberta) had so many uses. We tend to reject local 'weeds' as just that and think exotic plants are the useful ones. Thanks for opening up our eyes.

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      @anonymous: If it has a tart taste, it might be Wood Sorrel. Are the leaves oval-shaped or heart-shaped? Here's a link to my page about Wood Sorrel - https://dengarden.com/gardening/oxalis

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in Michigan and I love the tart taste of yellow clover any one know something about this kind?

    • profile image

      brussell_investor 5 years ago

      Love your blog. I always favored clovers but never knew much about them.

    • SMW1962 LM profile image

      SMW1962 LM 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea clover was edible.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 5 years ago

      Great lens - thank you

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I recently discovered you could eat clovers, and while munching on some fresh ones today, I found two four-leafers! : )

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @winter aconite: this time of year, they taste like Granny Smith apples :D love the taste

    • winter aconite profile image

      winter aconite 5 years ago

      As a child I used to pick and eat the flowers. They are quite nice!!!

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 5 years ago

      We call it "detelja" in Slovenia.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very nice lens, now that is is spring here in the midwest, I will be looking for those four leafed clovers. Reminds me of a very nice song.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      I had no idea they were edible! I've always loved the smell of clover flowers. Wonderful lens!

    • Chocolatealchemy profile image

      Chocolatealchemy 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      What a great Lens you've created - thanks for the info as I didn't realize clover was edible and so nutritious.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Happy St. Patrick's Day, Joan! Didn't realize clover had medicinal purposes. Thanks for sharing!

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 5 years ago

      Enjoyed reading your informative lens. Happy St Patrick's Day!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow, so you can eat the clover, perfect for St. Patrick's day.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Wonderful plant, nutritious and easy to grow - and I always liked the look of it!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Love this Clover lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Whew, we've been missing out on using clover...I have chewed on clover and maybe need to explored doing that more!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I truly enjoy your features on edible plants and weeds. Very educational and interesting. Thank you!

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 6 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      The lawn at my last house was covered in clover and I wanted to eat it, but the lawn was also my dogs toilet so I stayed away for obvious reasons! Now, i do not have the dog, but we have moved and there is not so much clover here. But we do have loads of other edible weeds that I put in my green smoothies regularly.

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 6 years ago

      Thanks for this valuable lens on Clover. Can one grow this "weed' to add to salad and stuff ? Does this have nutrition vale that is important to such adding ? These are two questons I will be seeking answer from your lens and my own search. Hope we can also discuss other "weeds" that are edible in future perhaps.

    • WaynesWorld LM profile image

      WaynesWorld LM 6 years ago

      This was awesome, a bit of a take me back to my childhood growing up in Iowa. We were always eating everything, the green apples in aunt Jeanie's(not our real aunt) backyard, plums in the "forbidden orchard", going thru the boxes of fruit and vegetables that the local distributor would leave for ol' Floyd that raised horses down by a place we all knew as the "horse kill." And I remember eating the flowery part of these before they bloomed.

      In Arizona they must have came in the potting soil because I never saw them anywhere except in flower beds and where hay was grown. They grew in my flower beds in my backyard and the turtle that the neighbor girl Tamara brought over because her parents wouldn't let her keep it ate the heck out of this clover. Oh the turtle turned out to be an African Spurred desert tortoise we named Torty, figured it would work for a boy or a girl, turned out it was a he. The clover here seems to be a bit of a tiny variety, not as large as the stuff I grew up with in Iowa, and the flowers are yellow. It still tastes good though. =*)

    • sharioleary profile image

      Shari O'Leary 6 years ago from Minnesota

      If it hadn't been for the interesting thread started in the forum, I never would have looked at this lens. You have now been blessed by another angel.

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 6 years ago

      I learned some things here about the clover I used to curse taking over my lawn. Also been thinking that pratense may be a good name for a future horse. :)

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I am interested in edible wild plants, too and really enjoy all of the information about edible weeds like clover.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      It kind of makes you feel more hopeful when you know there are edible plants even in an urban area. How cool to know that good old clover is edible!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Here in Curitiba, a city in the South of Brazil, white clover is seen everywhere, but red clover is rare, I've seen it only in a few places. But some days before, I've found lots of red clover growing in a field and I took some of them to plant at home in a big vase! Yesterday night, after reading your information, I tried that red clover tea and it was very good! I loved it!

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      @anonymous: I just went and looked it up and you're right, it's a very beautiful plant. I don't think I've ever seen it around here where I live, but I'll keep my eyes open.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Do you know something about Trifolium incarnatum? It is a very beautiful red clover (really red).

    • profile image

      fashionistadiva 6 years ago

      I never knew that a clover anywhere was edible!! thnkks for the info!!

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 6 years ago

      I happen to like clover and it smells so sweet when it is freshly cut.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 6 years ago from USA

      I like clover, and have a yard full of it.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Interesting indeed. I only really knew about the tea. Thank you for sharing. Sincerely, Rose

    • profile image

      gogolf162 6 years ago

      I did not know clover was a weed. Thanks for the information.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 6 years ago

      Very informative. Thank you.

    • ForestBear LM profile image

      ForestBear LM 6 years ago

      Great lens! Didn't realize it could be used in cooking. Thank you for the information

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I love clover. I've never eaten it. I mean I love the look and smell of it. I have a clover plant (shamrock) growing in my window and the park across the street is full of clover. Your lens is very informative.

    • profile image

      FarmerTom 6 years ago

      Clover lawns are making a comeback and none too soon. They're great! I remember making clover necklaces and bracelets with my best friend Paula when we were little girls--but we never ate them. Maybe we should have!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      We eat quite a bit of wild food and clover is great. Thanks for highlighting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens--I never realized that clover was edible. Lots of interesting information here!

    • profile image

      NYThroughTheLens 6 years ago

      What a wonderful lens. I learned quite a bit!

    • Rusty Quill profile image

      Rusty Quill 6 years ago

      Fascinating lens - I bet clover would work well in a green smoothie - I'll have to give it a try this summer. :)

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

      When I was a child, we used to suck the honey of red clover. Thanks for reminding me. Blessed by a Squid Angel!!

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      @paperfacets: I've been thinking the same thing about the rain. The salads are going to be really good.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Haha, you beat them to it. Now the chef's on TV are going out and getting plants from L.A. locales. There should be a good bounty in a couple of weeks with this nicely spaced rain lately. I used to see women walking the vacant spaces near the foothills for cactus. We occasionally take a couple of paddles from the plant on our slope and cook it up for a veggy side.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      We had lots of clover in Iowa, we used to make necklaces

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 6 years ago

      I like having clover in my yard. When we were kids we used to braid the white clover blossoms.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      You just got a "Lucky Leprechaun Blessing" from a SquidAngel who really loves your lens. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      That explains something that puzzled me. I got great photos of a shamrock like leaf last week, but it had a non-clover flower. Must have been sorrel.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      I have eaten clover in salad, not bad at all!

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      Just returning to say that this lens has been blessed and added to my Growing Vegetables and Herbs lens.

    • Asinka profile image

      Asinka Fields 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Never knew about clover, thanks for educating me ...

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      @anonymous: If you want to send a picture to me, you can click on my face up at the top of the page. That will take you to my bio page, where there is a "Contact" button.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have a clover with yellow flowers in my garden. It dies in summer and comes back in winter. I use it in my green smoothies and I hope I am not making a mistake!!! I can send you a picture by email. I cannot find any information about it on the Internet.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      I learned something new today about clover being edible. Thanks for sharing. Blessed and lensrolled to my garden lenses.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Thanks for your great lenses on natural herbs! :)

    • deyanis profile image

      deyanis 6 years ago from Oz

      Great lens with interesting facts about clover. I thought clover is just a fake flower / weed in a comic book. But now, I know that clover is real and you can actually eat them. I should go and have a look for a clover and try them myself. --- Blessed ---

    • profile image

      KDimmick 7 years ago

      Fascinating! I love red clover - the smell reminds me of honey

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 7 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      I used to eat the sweet leaves of white clover that grew in my back yard when I was a kid. It has the nicest taste, kind of sweet and also tangy. The flowers weren't bad either. I will have to look for red clover to try now.

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 7 years ago

      Great lens! I love learning about this kind of thing. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing :-)

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 7 years ago

      Great lens, thanks!

    • CeleryStalker LM profile image

      CeleryStalker LM 7 years ago

      I've only tried clover as a kid (and almost everything else in the backyard), might have to eat some again one of these days. :)

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      I've actually eaten clover, and nettle and dandelion. But not much nor often. My husband is the true afficiando of grazing the weeds. :) This was truly interesting

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 7 years ago from Michigan

      An excellent lens, packed with information! The last time I saw clover up close and personal was when I was a kid and used to lie on the grass for hours seeing whatever I could see (mainly insects, I admit). There was a period when I did a lot of juicing, and I found that adding half a cup or more of fresh red clover sprouts would give my carrot/apple juice a rich creamy malty taste. I'm making a mental note so I can pick some red clover to make an infusion. The trick will be to find a place that hasn't been sprayed with anything. Thanks for sharing this information!

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 7 years ago from Vancouver

      I have often added clover to my salads - and chickweed too.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 7 years ago

      I never knew you could eat clover! I'll have to tell my dad that all the clover in his lawn is a good thing!

    • NatureMaven profile image

      NatureMaven 7 years ago

      If bunnies can eat clover we can too! Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I guess it is not surprising the clover is edible. I've seen animals eat it a lot...just never thought of it for humans.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I once took a wild edibles class, and clover was one of many edible "weeds" the instructor pointed out to us. Thing is, it's one of the few I remember other than wild carrot and pineapple weed. But now I know a lot more about it than just the fact that it can be eaten. Thanks for the good information. Nicely presented, too.

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 7 years ago

      I get a real buzz from eating natural products, berries, fruits, didn't know I could eat clover!

    • aperkins lm profile image

      aperkins lm 7 years ago

      My daughters love to pick the purple clover flowers and suck the nectar out of the base of the petals. Thanks for sharing the information!

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 7 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I used to drink clover tea when I lived on the farm as a child. It was sweet, even without honey.

    • profile image

      Tarra99 7 years ago

      I have more clover than grass on my lawn (in some parts) ;o) ...thanks for letting me know I can start adding it to my salad! :o) ...I never knew

    • AngelDey profile image

      AngelDey 7 years ago

      I used to eat clover leaves when I was a child because they had a sour taste and I loved it. I knew they were edible but have never actually used them in recipes. This is really great information. Thanks.

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      Maurice Glaude 7 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Ok I'm totally interested.

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      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • puzzlerpaige profile image

      puzzlerpaige 7 years ago

      I had no idea humans could eat clover. Where we used to live, we had so much white clover that our yard looked covered in snow (we are in Florida). I hated to mow it since it attracted droves of honey bees. I learned something today.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      Around my home, all I seem to see is the white clover :-( What a fascinating read!

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 7 years ago

      Weeds... and you can eat them. I was just weeding this morning... which tells you where I am on the issue. I have already learned a few things this morning... impressive. I'm making a list! :)

    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      I love your "Edible Weeds in Los Angeles" series. I've been browsing through them this morning :-) Am lensrolling this to my red clover lens.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Great lens and a heads up on what to do with those pesty weeds. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

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      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Beautiful lens - I love the way you presented the information. Blessed :-)

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 7 years ago from Western Mass

      this is a great lens, and i can't wait to check out the others edible weeds. :)

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      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      ¨¨¨°º©©º° This lens has been blessed! °º©©º°¨¨¨

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      Wow - I had no idea I could eat clover and it has health benefits. I'm going to have to re-think my opinion of my "weedy" yard. Great lens!