Common Names: Red clover, purple clover
Sub-category: Pea family
An herbaceous, short-lived perennial plant, variable in size, growing to 20 to 80 cm tall. The leaves are alternate, trifoliate (with three leaflets), each leaflet 15 to 30 mm long and 8 to 15 mm broad, green with a characteristic pale crescent in the outer half of the leaf; the petiole is 1 to 4 cm long, with two basal stipules. The flowers are dark pink with a paler base, 12 to 15 mm long, produced in a dense inflorescence.
Found in fields, lawns, roadsides, waste areas.
Edible Notes: 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 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 base of the flower petals, when pulled from the flower head are edible and have a sweet nectar flavor. Do not consume clover growing near roads, in waste areas, or in areas that may have been sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers.
Warnings: Red clover contains isoflavones (estrogen-like compounds) which can mimic the effect of endogenous estrogen. Due to its activity on estrogen receptors, it is not recommended for people with a history of breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, or other estrogen-sensitive conditions. Due to its coumarin derivatives, it should be used in caution in individuals with coagulation disorders or currently undergoing anticoagulation therapy.