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Overview

Brief Summary

Hare's-foot clover is named after its fluffy manner of flowering. Both stems and leaves are covered in fine hair. The flower head is made up of lots of small flowers surrounded by five long hairy sepals. In fact, you are very likely to think the sepals are the petals. Like most species in the pea family, hare's-foot clover fixes nitrogen, making it a valuable plant for fields depleted in this important element for crops. Hare's-foot clover is native to most of Europe, growing best in dry sandy soils. It is also an indicator of calcium depletion, grazing and treading.
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Comprehensive Description

Comments

Rabbit-Foot Clover is easy to distinguish from other plants because of its exceptionally hairy flowerheads and trifoliate leaves. No other clover species (Trifolium sp.) in Illinois has such hairy flowerheads. It is rather unfortunate that Rabbit-Foot Clover is not native to North America, even though it is somewhat weedy, because its flowerheads are quite cute and appealing.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This wildflower is an annual (less often a biennial) about 4-16" tall, branching occasionally to abundantly. The erect to ascending stems are medium green, hairy, and terete. Alternate trifoliate leaves occur at intervals along these stems. These leaves have short hairy petioles. Individual leaflets are ½-1" long and about one-third as much across; they are elliptic, elliptic-oblong, or oblanceolate-oblong in shape. Leaflet margins are usually smooth and ciliate, although sometimes there are tiny teeth towards their tips. The upper leaflet surface is medium green and sparsely covered with appressed long hairs, while the lower surface is hairy. The leaflets are sessile or nearly so. At the base of the petiole of each compound leaf, there is a pair of stipules about ¼" long. The green body of each stipule usually adheres to the petiole, while its awn-like tip is detached from the petiole and it is either green or red. Individual flowerheads about ½-1½" long and ½" across terminate the stems or develop from the axils of the leaves. These flowerheads are pinkish gray with a fuzzy-hairy appearance and they are globoid to short-cylindrical in shape. Each flowerhead has a short peduncle that is similar to the stems. Numerous small flowers are densely arranged along all sides and the entire length of a flowerhead. Each flower is about ¼" in length, consisting of a white corolla with 5 petals, a greenish-red calyx with 5 long bristly teeth, several inserted stamens, and a pistil with a single style. The body of the calyx is short-tubular and hairy, while the teeth are usually reddish with white feathery hairs; these teeth extend beyond the corolla. The narrow corolla consists of a banner (upper petal), a pair of wings (2 lateral petals), and a small keel (2 lower petals); the banner extends beyond the other petals and functions like a hood. The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 2-3 months. The flowers are capable of self-fertilization in the absence of cross-pollination. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by small seedpods about 1/8" in long; they are partially hidden by the persistent calyx. Each seedpod contains a single seed about 1.0-1.5 mm. in length. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself, often forming colonies of plants at favorable sites.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The non-native Rabbit-Foot Clover is occasional in sandy areas of Illinois, otherwise it is rare or absent. This species was introduced from Eurasia. Habitats consist of upland sand prairies, areas along railroads, sandy fields, and waste areas. Relatively open disturbed areas are preferred where competition from other kinds of ground vegetation has been reduced.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Annual, Herbs, Taproot present, Nodules present, Stems erect or ascending, Stems less than 1 m tall, Stems solid, Stems or young twigs sparsely to densely hairy, Leaves alternate, Leaves petiolate, Stipules conspicuous, Stipules green, triangulate to lanceolate or foliaceous, Stipules setiform, subulate or acicular, Stipules persistent, Stipules clasping stem at the base, Stipules adnate to petiole, Leaves compound, Leaves palmately 2-3 foliate, Leaf or leaflet margins entire, Leaflets dentate or denticul ate, Leaflets 3, Leaves glabrous or nearly so, Inflorescences racemes, Inflorescences spikes or spike-like, Inflorescence terminal, Flowers zygomorphic, Calyx 5-lobed, Calyx hairy, Calyx lobes exceeding or about equal to corolla, Petals separate, Corolla papilionaceous, Petals clawed, Petals white, Petals pinkish to rose, Banner petal narrow or oblanceolate, Wing petals narrow, oblanceolate to oblong, Wing petals auriculate, Wing tips obtuse or rounded, Keel tips obtuse or rounded, not beaked, Stamens 9-10, Stamens diadelphous, 9 united, 1 free, Filaments glabrous, Style terete, Fruit a legume, Fruit unilocular, Fruit indehiscent, Fruit orbicular to subglobose, Fruit or valves persistent on stem, Fruit enclosed in calyx, Fruit glabrous or glabrate, Fruit 1-seeded, Seeds cordiform, mit-shaped, notched at one end, Seed surface smooth, Seeds olive, brown, or black.
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Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The non-native Rabbit-Foot Clover is occasional in sandy areas of Illinois, otherwise it is rare or absent. This species was introduced from Eurasia. Habitats consist of upland sand prairies, areas along railroads, sandy fields, and waste areas. Relatively open disturbed areas are preferred where competition from other kinds of ground vegetation has been reduced.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Faunal Associations

According to Müller (1873/1883) in Germany, the insect pollinators of the flowers consist of a variety of bees, including honeybees, bumblebees, leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), and Halictid bees. Small butterflies and skippers may visit the flowers to a lesser extent. These insects suck nectar from the flowers. The remaining information about floral-faunal relationships in this section applies primarily to Trifolium spp. (clovers) in general. Many insects feed on the foliage, stem pith, roots, or other parts of clovers. These species include Hypera nigrirostris (Lesser Cloverleaf Weevil), Hypera punctata (Cloverleaf Weevil), Sitona hispidulus (Clover Root Weevil), Languria mozardi (Clover Stem Borer), Nearctaphis bakeri (Clover Aphid) and other aphids, Philaenus spumaria (Meadow Spittlebug), Agalliota sanguinolenta (Clover Leafhopper), Agalliota quadripunctatus (Four-Spotted Leafhopper), Sericothrips cingulatus (thrips sp.), Melanoplus sanguinipes (Migratory Grasshopper) and other grasshoppers, and the caterpillars of many moths (see Moth Table for a listing of these species). In addition, the caterpillars of some butterflies and skippers feed on clovers, including Colias eurytheme (Orange Sulfur), Colias philodice (Clouded Sulfur), Everes comyntas (Eastern Tailed Blue), and Thorybes pylades (Northern Cloudywing). Some vertebrate animals also use clovers as a source of food. For example, such upland gamebirds as the Greater Prairie Chicken and Wild Turkey feed on the foliage and seeds, while such songbirds as the Mourning Dove, Horned Lark, and Chipping Sparrow feed on the seeds only. The foliage is also eaten by some mammals
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects of Rabbit's Foot Clover in Illinois

Trifolium arvense (Rabbit's Foot Clover)
(the butterfly sucks nectar; this observation is from Swengel & Swengel)

Butterflies
Lycaenidae: Lycaeides melissa samuelis sn fq (Sw)

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Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Apion dissimile feeds within inflorescence of Trifolium arvense
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / sap sucker
Ceraleptus lividus sucks sap of Trifolium arvense

Foodplant / sap sucker
Coriomeris denticulatus sucks sap of Trifolium arvense

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
conidial anamorph of Erysiphe trifolii parasitises live Trifolium arvense

Foodplant / open feeder
Hypera meles grazes on leaf of Trifolium arvense

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Trifolium arvense

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Trifolium arvense

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 17
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun, dry-mesic conditions, and sandy soil. This wildflower may spread aggressively in sandy disturbed areas.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Wikipedia

Trifolium arvense

Trifolium arvense is a species of clover. It may also be known as haresfoot clover, rabbitfoot clover, stone clover, hare's-foot clover or oldfield clover. This species of clover is native to most of Europe, excluding the Arctic zone, and western Asia, in plain or mid-mountain habitats up to 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) altitude. It grows in dry sandy soils, both acidic and alkaline, typically found at the edge of fields, in wastelands, at the side of roads, on sand dunes, and opportunistically in vineyards and orchards when they are not irrigated.

A full bodied view of T. arvense

It is a small erect herbaceous annual, or sometimes biennial plant, growing to 10-40 cm tall. Like all clovers, it has leaves divided into three sessile leaflets, which are slender, 1-2 cm long and 3-5 mm broad, and sometimes edged with small hairs and finely serrated. The leaves have a pair of stipules at the base, often tipped in red. The flowers are grouped in a dense inflorescence 2-3 cm long and 1-1.5 cm broad; each flower is 4-5 mm long, rosy white in colour, and especially characterised by the many silky white hairs which tip the five sepals, which are much larger than the petals. These hairs, along with the more or less oblong form of the inflorescence, are the inspiration for the common name. Pollination is carried out by bees, or via autogamy, since the plant is hermaphroditic, and the flowering season is from mid-spring to late summer. The fruit is a small pod containing a single seed.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Like most legumes, it fixes nitrogen, making it valued on low fertility soils for the benefit it gives to other crop species in supplying nitrogen. It is also grazed by sheep and goats.

It has been introduced to North America, where it is an invasive species in some areas.

Scientists at AgResearch in New Zealand have used genetic modification to take a single gene from Trifolium arvense and put it into the more common white clover, Trifolium repens. The genetically modified clover could reduce bloating in livestock and decrease methane emissions. The release of the genetically modified clover is expected to be approximately 2025.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hayes, Samantha (15 June 2010). "GM breakthrough could have huge climate benefits". 3 News. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
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