Herbaceous winter annual legume with an erect growth habit. Plants are densely hairy. Unbranched stems reach 1-3 feet tall. Inflorescence is a cylindrical or conic flower head 1-2 1/2 inches long containing many small (1/2 inch) bright scarlet (or occasionally white) florets that open in succession from the bottom to the top of the head. Trifoliate leaves are palmately trifoliolate, with egg- to heart-shaped leaflets 1/2 to 1 inch long, finely toothed near the tip. Stipules are elliptic, blunt, violet-veined, reddish-tipped, and mostly fused with the stem. Taproot and numerous fibrous roots extend 12-20 inches deep. Seeds are yellow and borne singly in small pods. Seeds are larger and more rounded than red clover seeds, with approximately 120,000 to 150,000 seeds per pound.