Medicago sativa L.

Alsike Inflor and leaves
Trifolium hybridum L.

Short-lived, cool-season perennial legume utilized for pasture and hay production in mixtures with red clover and grasses. High quality forage with bloat hazard similar to that of red clover or alfalfa. Semi-erect growth habit typically 1-3 feet tall. Seed head is similar to that of white clover but more pinkish-white. Hairless (glabrous) stems and leaves with serrated leaf margins. Tolerates slightly colder and wetter climate and less fertile soils than red clover. More acid and alkaline tolerant than most clovers. Resistant to northern and southern anthracnose but is susceptible to most other diseases and insects that attack red clover. Seldom grown alone but yields well in mixtures with grasses since the grass holds the clover more upright making harvesting easier.



Arrowleaf clover inflor leaves stem
Trifolium vesiculosum Savi

Winter annual legume that matures late with high forage yield and quality and low incidence of bloat.  It has a high percentage of hard seed and good reseeding ability. Predominant uses are for pasture and hay, with high forage quality and minimal bloat risk. Primary growing areas are in the southeastern part of the US, from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to South Carolina and southward to the Gulf of Mexico.  Thrives on well-drained sandy and clay soils but is less tolerant of acidity and low fertility than other clovers. It does not tolerate alkaline soils or poor drainage and it responds well to P and K fertilization. Maximum yields are obtained by frequent cutting or grazing until early April followed by a hay harvest at early bloom in late May.


Trifolium incarnatum L.

Cool-season annual forage legume with good seedling vigor and early forage production.  Leaves oval with no water marks, densely covered with hairs. Inflorescence is a scarlet (or occasionally white) conical head. Used primarily for overseeding warm-season perennial grasses for winter and spring grazing. Limited use as a summer annual green manure crop and in no-tillage rotations with corn and grain sorghum. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but not poor drainage. Grown throughout the southeastern US as far north as Kentucky and as far south as the Gulf Coast, excluding Florida.  Planted between mid-August (on prepared seedbeds) and November (for overseeding).

Trifolium ambiguum M. Bieb.

Long-lived, rhizomatous perennial legume also called Caucasian clover. Prostrate to erect stems, 1.5 feet in length, branching from the crown. Hairless oblong leaves with serrated margins, often with white V-shaped markings. Inflorescence is a head with mostly white to pink flowers. Used primarily for grazing, with similar bloat hazard as white clover and alfalfa. Tolerates water-logged and poor fertility soils. Poor seedling vigor, but once established is tolerant of extreme environmental conditions due to its deep branching taproot and rhizomes. Area of adaptation similar to white clover though it is most productive in the northern US with available summer moisture.

Trifolium pratense L.

Short-lived, cool-season perennial legume with spherical heads of pinkish-violet flowers and hairy (pubescent) oval leaflets with a white V mark.  Used primarily for hay and to increase quality of grass pastures. Mostly upright growth habit; primary stem produces many axillary branches at lower nodes. Highly digestible leaves and stems with high percentage of rumen by-pass protein. Lower bloat hazard when mixed with grasses. Older cultivars produce compounds with estrogenic activities that can interfere with livestock breeding.  Extensively grown in the humid region of the US from Ontario and Quebec in the north to Tennessee and South Carolina in the south. Grows best in fertile, well-drained soils of high moisture-holding capacity. Tolerates moderately acid soils but maximum yields with adequate Ca and pH of 5.8 or higher. Harvest for hay at 20% bloom for best compromise of quality and yield.

Trifolium subterraneum L.

Winter annual, reseeding forage legume. Used with perennial ryegrass or tall fescue for summer-dry hill-land pastures. Pubescent leaves and stems with cultivar-specific leaf markings. Typically 2 florets produce seed that is pushed below ground, germinating with the fall rains, producing a rosette prior to winter. High quality forage with minimal bloat hazard when less than 40% of the pasture mix. Produces runners from a central crown; leaf size varies depending on defoliation intensity. Tolerates moderately acid soils but germination and seedling vigor is improved when seed is lime- and rhizobia-coated. Phosphorus and Mo fertilization improves yield and persistence. 

Trifolium repens L.

Short-lived, perennial legume used globally in humid region and irrigated grass-legume pastures. Used to produce a high-quality pasture, hay, and/or silage when planted with a grass, making an excellent feed for livestock and poultry.  Works well as a cover crop because it grows rapidly and spreads quickly via stolons; frequently used in orchards and vineyards. Excellent forage quality, but bloat hazard when percentage exceeds 40% of the mixture. Plants are glabrous with indeterminate, prostrate stolons that root at nodes. Leaves are palmately trifoliate with long petioles. White to pinkish flowers are borne in round heads on long peduncles. Moderate to high fertility and adequate moisture are needed for good production. Tolerant of moderately acid to moderately alkaline soils, wet soils, and flooding. Does not grow well under saline conditions or heat and drought. Continual haying will cause a loss of white clover in the stand due to shading from tall grasses. Continued close grazing will favor the clover over pasture grasses. Susceptible to slug damage.