Common names: English: Red clover, purple clover, Chilean clover, cowgrass clover, mammoth clover, medium red clover, peavine clover; Polish: konicz, krasikoń, kraśka; French: trèfle des prés, trèfle rouge, trèfle violet; German: Rotklee; Italian: trifoglio pretense, trifoglio violetta; Portuguese: trevo-violeta; Spanish: trébol común, trébol rojo, trébol violeta; Swedish: rödklöver; Japanese: aka-tsumekusa, murasaki-tsumekusa; Chinese: hong che zhou cao; Korean: bulgeuntokkipul; Russian: klever krasnyj
Place of origin: northern Africa, Asia, Europe
Urban habitat: Commonly found in vacant lots, urban meadows, lawns, along roadways; grows best in well-drained loamy soils but can tolerate a wide variety of soil types.
Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer; capable of improving soil quality by fixing nitrogen; source of nectar for pollinating insects and food for wildlife.
History: Trifolium pretense has a long history of medicinal use by many cultures, commonly used in combination with other purifying species, such as Rumex crispus and Arctium lappa. Its flowers have long been used as a remedy for menopausal symptoms as well as for a wide variety of ailments including cancerous tumors of the breast, ovaries and lymphatic systems, skin infections, acne, rashes, constipation, coughs, muscle spasms, gout and used as a sedative. The plant continues to be used agriculturally to make hay and forage for livestock animals and for soil improvement. English colonists brought the species to North America and several Native American tribes also used the plant medicinally, to treat fever, whooping cough, respiratory problems, kidney aliments, gynecological ailments, and used as a blood purifier and cancer treatment. Today, the plant continues to be used for many of the same purposes, as well as for treatment of inflammatory bowel disorders, arthritis, rheumatism and infertility. A yellow dye can be made from its leaves. Its leaves and young flowers are edible, used in salads, soups or cooked like spinach. A sweet tea can be made from its flowers. Its roots are edible and its dried flowers and seed pods ground into a powder to be used as a flour.