Distribution in Egypt
Nile Valley North of Nubia (Delta).
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Canada (North America)
Chile (South America)
United States (North America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Voss, E. G. 1985. Michigan Flora. Part II Dicots (Saururaceae-Cornaceae). Bull. Cranbrook Inst. Sci. 59. xix + 724. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1700
- Molina Rosito, A. 1975. Enumeración de las plantas de Honduras. Ceiba 19(1): 1–118. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/866
- Gleason, H. A. 1968. The Choripetalous Dicotyledoneae. vol. 2. 655 pp. In H. A. Gleason Ill. Fl. N. U.S. (ed. 3). New York Botanical Garden, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1704
- Turner, B. L. 1959. The Legumes of Texas Univ. of Texas Press, Austin. 284 pp. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/68
- Marticorena, C. & M. Quezada. 1985. Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Chile. Gayana, Bot. 42: 1–157. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1592
- Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles & C. R. Bell. 1968. Man. Vasc. Fl. Carolinas i–lxi, 1–1183. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/636
- Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston. 1970. Man. Vasc. Pl. Texas i–xv, 1–1881. The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1493
- Small, J. K. 1933. Man. S.E. Fl. i–xxii, 1–1554. Published by the Author, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1515
- Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Fl. Great Plains i–vii, 1–1392. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/637
- Munz, P. A. & D. D. Keck. 1959. Cal. Fl. 1–1681. University of California Press, Berkeley. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1717
- Flora of China Editorial Committee. 2010. Fl. China 10: 1–642. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100000625
- Burkart, A. 1955. Especies de Trifolium, nuevas como adventicias en el sur de Argentina, Chile y Uruguay. Darwiniana 11(1): 133–138. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/185
In the UK Trifolium incarnatum ssp. molinerii is recorded as native in only three localities on the Lizard peninsula in west Cornwall and Jersey (Preston et al. 2002). It is also present in six more localities along the south coast of England and one locality in East Anglia but these are all recorded as alien (Preston et al. 2002). In Spain, most of the locations are naturalized; the populations in Huesca are the only ones that are native (Muñoz Rodríguez et al. 2000).
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Distribution and adaptation
Crimson clover will grow on poorer soils than most other clovers, thriving on both well-drained sandy and clayey soils. It does not do well in extreme cold or heat. The preferable pH range is 6.0 to 7.0. After the seedlings become well established, it makes good growth at lower temperatures than most other clovers. Crimson clover has been used for a cover crop as far north as northern Maine; primary growing areas are the Southeast and southern Atlantic coastal states.
For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.
Habitat and Ecology
In the UK Trifolium incarnatum ssp. molinerii is a lowland species which is strictly maritime as it only grows within 200 m of the sea (Preston et al. 2002). It prefers open habitats such as cliff-slopes that are severely droughted in the summer (Preston et al. 2002).
Crimson clover seed should be inoculated for planting on critical areas where bacteria may have been lost in erosion of the surface. On sites that have been in pasture or hay, this is probably no longer necessary.
Soils should be brought up to moderate to high levels of phosphorus and potash prior to planting clovers, but nitrogen should not be applied unless degraded sites are being planted. Plant in the spring or late summer. Clovers may be frost seeded in late winter. The best planting method is to drill the seed into a firm, weed free seedbed. No-till methods can be used successfully when effective weed control is employed. Seeding rates range from 10 to 15 lb/acre when seeded alone and 5 to 10 lb/acre when seeded in a mixture. Seed should be planted at about a ¼ inch depth.
Foodplant / parasite
conidial anamorph of Erysiphe trifolii parasitises live Trifolium incarnatum
Foodplant / open feeder
Hypera meles grazes on leaf of Trifolium incarnatum
Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous telium of Uromyces fallens parasitises live leaf of Trifolium incarnatum
Remarks: Other: uncertain
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Trifolium incarnatum
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Trifolium incarnatum
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU 27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)Trifolium incarnatum is a common species with a widespread distribution and with no major threats, therefore it is classified as Least Concern.
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
- Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève. http://www.crsf.ch/
Ex situ seed samples are available in numerous gene banks with the largest collections being held by the Trifolium Genetic Resource Centre in Perth, Australia (81 accessions), and the National Plant Germplasm System in Washington, USA (34 accessions) N.I. Vavilov All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry Russian Federation, Aegean Agricultural Research Institiute (Menemen, Turkey), ICARDA (Aleppo, Syria) and University of Aberystwyth (Aberystwyth , UK) gene banks (Lamont et al. 2001).
EURISCO reports 126 germplasm accessions held in European genebanks, 11 of which are reported to be of wild or weedy origin. Of the wild accessions, nine originate from within Europe. These nine wild accessions originate from Bulgaria (one), Italy (two), Macedonia FYR (two), Spain (3) and Ukraine (one) (EURISCO Catalogue 2010).In situ the species is likely to be passively conserved in many existing protected areas in throughout its range but as its conservation in these sites is not actively monitored it may be subject to population loss over time from factors such as climate change.
Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
Most crimson clover types used in the past were common types. However, more recent introductions featured reseeding types such as ‘Auburn’, ‘Autauga’, ‘Dixie’, and ‘Talledega’. ‘AU Sunrise’ (composite of 11 accession from FL, AL, GA, SC) is a reseeding cultivar from the Jimmy Carter Plant Materials Center in Georgia. The release is well-adapted to Alabama and Georgia, and can grow into Florida and Mississippi.
Pasture and hayland management varies depending upon the forages in use, but should be based upon the grasses involved since they are the “meat and potatoes” of the mix. Graze or cut for hay when the crimson clover is in the early bloom stage (¼ to ½ in bloom). If used as a winter pasture, grazing should not be too close as to affect stand and yields the following spring. Grazing or hay cutting as this clover reaches maturity may be harmful. Hairs of stems and heads become hard and tough. If used as a green manure, manage the crop so it is plowed under about 2 to 3 weeks before the next crop is planted.
Clover especially needs a high level of phosphorous. High inputs of nitrogen fertilizer will damage clover and other legumes by reducing their vigor and boosting the grass.
This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov.
Animal management note: on pasture or hay high in clover content, take steps to introduce animals gradually to the forage or the risk of bloat can be high.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Crimson clover, as a winter annual, is usually planted in the late summer to early fall. It used in pasture, hay, and silage mixes, or used alone as a winter cover for soil protection or green manure crop for soil improvement.
This upright annual herb grows to 20-50 cm tall, unbranched or branched only at the base. The leaves are trifoliate with a long petiole, each leaflet hairy, 8-16 mm across, with a truncated or bilobed apex. The flowers are produced throughout the spring and summer, rich red or crimson, congested on an elongated spike inflorescence 3-5 cm tall and 1.5 cm broad; the individual flowers are up to 10-13 mm long and have five petals. The banner of each flower does not sit upright, but folds forward.
Cultivation and uses
It is sown as quickly as possible after the removal of a grain crop at the rate of 20-22 kg/ha. It is found to succeed better when only the surface of the soil is stirred by the scarifier and harrow than when a plowing is given. It grows rapidly in spring, and yields an abundant crop of green food, particularly palatable to live stock. It is also suitable for making into hay. Only one cutting, however, can be obtained, as it does not shoot again after being mown.
In Great Britain it is most valuable in the south, though less successful in northern regions.
It has been introduced into the United States, originally as forage for cattle. It is often used for roadside erosion control, as well as beautification; it tends, however, to eliminate all other desirable spring and early-summer species of native vegetation in the area where it is planted.
- Flora Europaea: Trifolium incarnatum
- Ecoflora: Trifolium incarnatum
- FAO factsheet: Trifolium incarnatum
- USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Ajilvsgi, Geyata. (2003). Wildflowers of Texas. Shearer Publishing, Fredericksburg, Texas (USA). ISBN 0-940672-73-1.
- Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium, University of Wisconsin Page with several photos.
- Ultrastructural details seen on the surface of a "crimson clover", Trifolium incarnatum flower petal.
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