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Herbaceous, short-lived perennial legume adapted to humid, temperate regions. Used in permanent pastures or as a hay crop, alone or sown in combination with grasses. Also used for erosion control, as wildlife forage, and as a ground cover. Performs well in soils too acidic or too poorly drained for alfalfa.
Identification characteristics include having five nearly hairless leaflets with the central three held conspicuously above the others.
Extensively grown in humid, temperate regions. In the USA, this includes northeastern and north-central states from Maine and northern Minnesota to Tennessee and northern Arkansas and throughout northwest coastal areas and intermountain valleys. Requires 25-40 inches (635-1000 mm) of precipitation or irrigation.
Very tolerant of waterlogged soils; can withstand several weeks of flooding. Tolerant of strongly acid soils (pH 5.1-8.4) but for maximum yields, pH 5.8-7.5 recommended. Moderately tolerant of high alkalinity and saline conditions (1.5-3 dS/m).
Low growing (e.g. ‘Empire’ and ‘Dawn’) varieties typically for grazing; upright, European types (e.g. ‘Viking’) for hay and pasture. Low-growing types are more cold tolerant and bloom later. ‘Norcen’ is an intermediate type that persists longer than upright cultivars. Principal cultivars planted in the western US include ‘Cascade’, ‘Granger’, and ‘Kalo’.
Highly palatable and digestible forage with high percentage of rumen by-pass protein. Valued for condensed tannins including anthelmintic benefits.
None; non-bloating legume.