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Clover - A nutritious edible weed

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White clover photographed in a yard in Lynwood.

White clover photographed in a yard in Lynwood.

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.

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.

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!

Clover videos

A couple of videos about red clover.

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

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

Some cookbooks that include

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.

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

There are also some menopause-related books that talk about red clover.

Leave a greeting!

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on March 14, 2015:

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.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 15, 2014:

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!

Eugene Samuel Monaco from Lakewood New York on July 15, 2014:

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

Tanya Jones from Texas USA on February 26, 2014:

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

Loretta Livingstone from Chilterns, UK. on November 28, 2013:

I had no idea clover was edible. Fascinating.

minpinmojo76 on October 25, 2013:

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

SteveKaye on May 30, 2013:

Amazing! Thank you for publishing this lens.

chi kung on April 14, 2013:

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

anonymous on March 10, 2013:

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

lilantz on February 06, 2013:

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

anonymous on January 26, 2013:

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 on September 17, 2012:

Wonderful information!

Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 01, 2012:

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

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on September 01, 2012:

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?

anonymous on August 13, 2012:

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.

Joan Hall (author) from Los Angeles on August 06, 2012:

@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

anonymous on August 06, 2012:

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

brussell_investor on July 13, 2012:

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

SMW1962 LM on July 12, 2012:

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

GreenfireWiseWo on June 28, 2012:

Great lens - thank you

anonymous on June 04, 2012:

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

anonymous on May 16, 2012:

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

winter aconite on May 15, 2012:

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

VeseliDan on May 14, 2012:

We call it "detelja" in Slovenia.

anonymous on April 30, 2012:

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 on April 01, 2012:

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

Chocolatealchemy from London, United Kingdom on March 18, 2012:

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

anonymous on March 17, 2012:

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

DLeighAlexander on March 17, 2012:

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

anonymous on February 29, 2012:

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

dahlia369 on February 18, 2012:

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

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on January 21, 2012:

Love this Clover lens.

anonymous on January 06, 2012:

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

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on December 31, 2011:

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

Bill from Gold Coast, Australia on December 03, 2011:

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 on November 09, 2011:

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 on November 08, 2011:

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. =*)

Shari O'Leary from Minnesota on September 03, 2011:

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 on September 02, 2011:

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. :)

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on August 31, 2011:

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

Joan Haines on August 29, 2011:

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!

anonymous on August 28, 2011:

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!

Joan Hall (author) from Los Angeles on August 27, 2011:

@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.

anonymous on August 27, 2011:

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

fashionistadiva on August 24, 2011:

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

lemonsqueezy lm on August 10, 2011:

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

Tonie Cook from USA on July 21, 2011:

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

sousababy on July 13, 2011:

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

gogolf162 on July 09, 2011:

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

GreenfireWiseWo on July 05, 2011:

Very informative. Thank you.

ForestBear LM on July 01, 2011:

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

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 09, 2011:

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.

FarmerTom on June 04, 2011:

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 on May 30, 2011:

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

anonymous on May 29, 2011:

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

NYThroughTheLens on April 23, 2011:

What a wonderful lens. I learned quite a bit!

Rusty Quill on April 05, 2011:

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

irenemaria from Sweden on April 01, 2011:

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

Joan Hall (author) from Los Angeles on March 25, 2011:

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

Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on March 25, 2011:

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 on March 19, 2011:

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

Dianne Loomos on March 17, 2011:

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

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on March 17, 2011:

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

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 17, 2011:

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 on February 22, 2011:

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

Jeanette from Australia on February 14, 2011:

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

Asinka Fields from Los Angeles, CA on January 24, 2011:

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

Joan Hall (author) from Los Angeles on January 23, 2011:

@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.

anonymous on January 22, 2011:

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 on January 22, 2011:

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

miaponzo on January 18, 2011:

Thanks for your great lenses on natural herbs! :)

deyanis from Oz on January 14, 2011:

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 ---

KDimmick on November 30, 2010:

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

Elizabeth Sheppard from Bowling Green, Kentucky on November 11, 2010:

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 on November 10, 2010:

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

EmmaCooper LM on October 31, 2010:

Great lens, thanks!

CeleryStalker LM on October 15, 2010:

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. :)

Mona from Iowa on October 08, 2010:

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

Thomas F. Wuthrich from Michigan on October 02, 2010:

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 from Vancouver on September 30, 2010:

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

missbat on September 25, 2010:

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 on September 25, 2010:

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

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on September 23, 2010:

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.

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on September 15, 2010:

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 on September 13, 2010:

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

aperkins lm on September 12, 2010:

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 Shay from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 11, 2010:

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

Tarra99 on September 06, 2010:

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 on September 04, 2010:

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.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile, AL on September 04, 2010:

Ok I'm totally interested.

VarietyWriter2 on September 02, 2010:

Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

puzzlerpaige on August 24, 2010:

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.

Jeanette from Australia on August 04, 2010:

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

Winter52 LM on July 14, 2010:

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! :)

Karen from U.S. on May 23, 2010:

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 on April 21, 2010:

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

myraggededge on April 21, 2010:

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

hlkljgk from Western Mass on April 18, 2010:

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

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on April 15, 2010:

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

sheriangell on April 11, 2010:

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!