Trifolium vesiculosum Savi

Group: 
Dicot
Family: 
Fabaceae
Uses: 
Grazing
Hay
Monoculture or Mixture
Pasture
Silage
Description: 

Herbaceous, highly productive, cool-season winter annual clover suitable for hay, grazing, seed production, soil improvement, and wildlife forage. Well-adapted to overseeding of perennial warm-season grasses. Produces forage later in the spring than crimson and sub clover. Upright growth habit, to 40-50 inches (100-130 cm) under favorable conditions.

Identification

Type: 
Legume
Life cycle: 
Winter annual
Growth Season: 
Cool
Identification Characteristics: 

Inflorescence: Large conical flower head up to 2 inches (5 cm) long has white to pink flowers opening from bottom to top, browning when mature. Mostly upright stems grow to 3-4 feet (90-120 cm), are glabrous (not hairy), hollow, smooth, and often purple. Palmately trifoliolate, arrow-shaped leaves have a characteristic large, white V mark. Stipules are white, long, narrow, and pointed, with prominent veins. Deep tap root can penetrate up to 4.5 feet (140 cm). Seeds are about twice the size of white clover, with 400,000 per lb (880,000/kg). Nearly 70% are hardseeded, seed requires scarification for satisfactory germination.

Growth Habit and Production

Growth Habit and Persistence: 

Mostly upright stems grow to 3-4 feet (90-120 cm). Annual.

Production Profile: 

Planted during the autumn in the southeastern USA with annual ryegrass or other annual grass or interseeded into warm season grass pastures where winter and spring temperatures are sufficiently warm to allow growth during this period. Arrowleaf is later maturing than crimson clover, and continues to grow into early July.

Climate and Soil Suitability Zones

Climate Tolerances: 

Grown throughout the mid-south and southeastern United States (USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9a-8a). It requires 18-25 inches (450-650 mm) minimum precipitation or irrigation.

Soil Tolerances: 

Tolerates moderately acid to moderately alkaline soils (pH 5.6-8.4) that are well- to moderately well-drained. Not suited to sandy, droughty soils with low fertility. Will not survive poorly drained soils. Moderately sensitive to salinity (1.5-3 dS/m).

Quantitative Tolerances: 

Arrowleaf Clover Suitability Tolerance Values

Suitability Class

Jan Min (°C)*

July Max

C)

Annual Precip (mm)**

Water balance (% RY)

Soil pH***

Soil Drainage 

Soil Salinity (dS/m)#

Well-suited

-12

30

650

80

5.8-7.5

MWD-WD

1-2

Moderately suited

-15

33

560

70

5.5-8.0

SPD-SED

2-3

Marginally suited

-20

35

460

60

5.0-8.5

SPD-ED

3-4

*Cold temperature tolerance: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7a-9a as a winter annual.

Latitude delimitations: 30-35 degrees N, 99 degrees West boundary.

**Precipitation minimum requirements important for fall, winter, spring seasons, since planted as a winter annual in the southeast.

Rooting: tap, to 150 cm.

*** Soil pH tolerance: NRCS Range and Pasture Handbook, Chapter 3 classification for arrowleaf clover is moderately acid to moderately alkaline (5.6-8.4). Y=101.3*EXP{-0.5*[(x -6.71)/1.059]^2}; Optimum is 6.7.

† Soil drainage: NRCS Range and Pasture Handbook, Chapter 3 classification for alsike clover is WD-PD. Soil drainage class abbreviations: 1=VPD, very poorly drained; 2=PD, poorly drained; 3=SPD, somewhat poorly drained; 4=MWD, moderately well drained, 5=WD, well drained; 6=SED, somewhat excessively drained; 7=ED, excessively drained. Percent relative yield for arrowleaf clover for the classes 1-7: 5, 20, 55, 100, 100, 55, 20, respectively.

# Soil salinity tolerance: NRCS Range and Pasture Handbook, Chapter 3 classification for clovers (alsike, Berseem, white, red, strawberry) is moderately sensitive (1.5-3 DS/m). Y=100.23 - 7.61 x - 2.84 x2.

 

Quality and Antiquality Factors

Quality Factors: 

High quality forage; improves pasture quality when overseeded into warm-season (C4) grasses.

Anti-quality Factors: 

Minimal bloat risk.

Cultivars

Select a cultivar that has been shown in local university trials to have improved resistance to virus complex, crown rot, and alfalfa weevils and aphids. ‘Blackhawk’ was released by Texas A&M in 2013. It matures earlier than ‘Apache’ (medium) and ‘Yuchi’ (late) cultivars. ‘Arrotas’ is a late-maturing, high yielding cultivar released by the Tasmania Institute of Agriculture.

Image Gallery

Resources

Publications: 

Books and Book Chapters

  • Forages: An Introduction to Grassland Agriculture (7th Edition, 2018)
    • Sheaffer, Craig C., M. Scott Wells, and Jerry Nelson. 2018. Legumes for Northern Areas. Chapter 8 In: Forages: An Introduction to Grassland Agriculture. Seventh Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Clover Science &Technology (Agronomy Monograph No. 25, 1985)

Extension Fact Sheets and Circulars

USDA NRCS Fact Sheet and Plant Profile 

Organizations

Vendors