Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Coladonato, Milo. 1993. Trifolium repens. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
Dutch white clover
The scientific name for white clover is Trifolium repens L. [14,32].
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
White clover has a circumboreal distribution. It was introduced in
North America from Europe and has naturalized throughout Canada and the
United States, including Hawaii and Alaska [12,15,41].
White clover occurs in most ecosystems.
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA
HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD
MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ
NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC
SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY
AB BC MB NT NS ON PQ SK YT
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
White clover occurs in most Kuchler Plant Associations.
SAF COVER TYPES :
White clover occurs in most SAF Cover Types.
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
White clover occurs in most SRM Cover Types.
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
White clover is an introduced species and is therefore not used in
habitat typing. It has, however, naturalized across North America is
often a major understory species in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
communities in the West .
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
White clover is an excellent forage plant for livestock and wildlife
[15,20]. The leaves and flowers are grazed by grizzly bear, moose,
mule, white-tailed deer, and blue grouse [2,18,21,26]. It comprises
nearly 6 percent of the annual forage of the white-footed vole .
The seeds are eaten by the northern bobwhite, bufflehead, American coot,
sage grouse, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, horned lark, mallard,
gray partridge, greater prairie chicken, willow ptarmigan, American
pintail, California quail, and American robin .
Palatability ratings for white clover are as follows :
UT CO WY MT ND
cattle good good good good good
domestic sheep good good good good good
horses good good fair good good
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
White clover is highly nutritious to cattle . The leaves are
high-quality feed, and, on a dry-weight basis are high in protein and
COVER VALUE :
The cover value for white clover has been rated as follows :
UT WY MT ND
elk poor poor ---- ----
mule deer poor poor ---- ----
white-tailed deer ---- poor ---- ----
pronghorn poor ---- ---- ----
upland game birds poor ---- ---- ----
waterfowl poor ---- good good
small nongame birds poor ---- ---- ----
small mammals poor ---- ---- ----
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
White clover is a common component of reclamation mixes in Canada and
the United States . It is commonly used for corridor reclamation on
seismic lines and pipeline rights-of-way in Alberta. It has been
successfully used to revegetate acid coal mine wastes in New Brunswick.
White clover had good performance when seeded on disturbed sites above
5,500 feet (1,650 m) in southeastern British Columbia but gave poor
results when seeded on some alpine sites in Colorado. At other alpine
locations in Colorado, white clover was difficult to establish but
performed well on moist sites at 11,760 feet (3,530 m) elevation .
White clover is used on minespoils in the eastern United States to
provide plant diversity, especially in food patches or openings planted
for wildlife .
Because white clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant, it is often included in
grass mixtures or grass-forb mixtures [5,16].
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
White clover is used extensively by bees to produce honey .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
White clover is normally used to provide a source of nitrogen for a sown
companion grass such as smooth brome (Bromus inermis), timothy (Phleum
pratense), or orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata) while itself yielding
herbage rich in protein . In southeastern United States rangelands,
grass forages grown with white clover average as high as or higher than
monospecific grass forage fertilized at nitrogen rates up to 300
pounds/acre (336 kg/ha). The inclusion of white clover also increases
the calcium concentration of the forage compared to grass alone.
Including a legume such as white clover in a forage mixture probably
offers more opportunity to increase forage nutritional yield than any
other practice generally available [28,38].
Spring mowing may decrease grass vigor and enhance growth of white
clover. Where midsummer mowing increases grass vigor, white clover
declines due to increased competition .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
White clover is a cool-season perennial forb. It produces stolons that
root at the nodes. The leaves are located along the creeping stems.
The small seeds have a hard seed coat [11,32,40].
A tap root develops in young plants and persists from less than 1 year
to 2 years. The majority of the roots are shallow and fibrous, forming
at stolon nodes . Most of the roots of white clover are in the top 4
to 10 inches (10-25 cm) of the soil . Some roots occur as deep as 24
inches (60 cm). Roots of at least one cultivar can penetrate up to 5
feet (1.5 m), depending on soil texture and structure .
Harberd  reported that most white clover clones live about 20 years,
but some may live to 100 or more years of age.
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
White clover reproduces by seed and by stoloniferous stems . The
seeds are dispersed by wind, water, birds, and grazing animals
[4,11,38]. Hull  reported that seeds stored for 25 years in
unheated sheds had a germination rate of 73 percent. In at least one
cultivar, the taproot supports vegetative regrowth .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
White clover can grow in a wide range of soil and moisture conditions
but grows best in the humid areas of the temperate zone . It is
found along roads, in meadows, and in wooded areas . White clover
grows on well drained or poorly drained soils but optimal growth occurs
on moist, deep soils with 0 to 8 percent slope. It is not tolerant of
drought, excess water, or soils that are saline, highly alkaline, or
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
White clover thrives in full sunlight and declines as grass cover
increases. It will grow in partial shade of aspen and oak woodlands
. White clover rapidly invades canopy gaps . In a study of
oldfield-deciduous forest succession in southwestern Ohio, white clover
was present on sites 2, 10, and 50 years after disturbance but not
present on sites that were 90 or more years old . In British
Columbia, white clover is one of the first plants to colonize river
gravel bars .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
White clover begins new growth in early to midspring, later in higher
elevations and latitudes. It flowers from May to July or throughout the
summer in cool, moist areas but becomes semidormant under hot, dry
conditions. The seeds mature about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering .
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Information regarding white clover survival following fire is lacking in
the literature. White clover is probably a decreaser following fire
since most of its growing parts are above ground and fire would quickly
defoliate these aboveground parts . White clover probably
regenerates following fire via soil-stored seed. It may also sprout
from the taproot and/or caudex [19,23].
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Surface rhizome/chamaephytic root crown
Caudex, growing points in soil
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
The stolons of white clover are killed by fire. If fire occurs in a
young population, where taproots are still vigorous, plants may
resprout, although probably with reduced vigor.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
Where fire enhances grass cover, the increase competition may reduce
cover of white clover further.
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Very little information about how white clover responds to fire was
given in the literature. Following mid-May prescribed burning of a
Wisconsin oldfield being reclaimed to bluestem (Andropogon spp.)
prairie, white clover frequency was 4 percent. Frequency was 1 percent
on control and 6 percent on mowed plots . Johnson  reported
that white clover seeds germinated on both burned and unburned plots in
central Iowa. After white clover was planted on the Sleeping Child Burn
in western Montana, it was present in postfire year 3 but was not
present in successional years .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
SPECIES: Trifolium repens
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