Herb: White Clover

Latin name: Trifolium repens

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of White Clover:

The plant is antirheumatic, antiscrophulatic, depurative, detergent and tonic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, fevers and leucorrhoea. A tincture of the leaves is applied as an ointment to gout. An infusion of the flowers has been used as an eyewash.

Description of the plant:


10 cm
(4 inches)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Grassland and lawns, preferring a calcareous clay soil.

Edible parts of White Clover:

Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower and are used in salads, soups etc. They can also be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach. The leaves are best cooked. Flowers and seed pods are dried, ground into powder and used as a flour or sprinkled on cooked foods such as boiled rice. Very wholesome and nutritious. The young flowers can also be used in salads. Root - cooked. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc. Dried flowering heads are a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant makes a good green manure, it is useful for over-wintering, especially in a mixture with Lolium perenne. Produces a good bulk. It is a host to "clover rot" however, so should not be used too frequently. It can be undersown with cereals or with tomatoes in a greenhouse (sow the seed before planting the tomatoes). Fairly deep rooting but not very fast growing. A good fast ground-cover plant for a sunny position.

Propagation of White Clover:

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ. If the seed is in short supply it might be better to sow it in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. Division in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Grassland and lawns, preferring a calcareous clay soil.

Known hazards of Trifolium repens:

This plant has been known to cause problems for grazing animals, though this has never happened in Britain. The problem may be associated with the climate in which the plant is growing. The species is polymorphic for cyanogenic glycosides. The leaves and flowers of certain cyanogenic phenotypes contain a glycoside which releases cyanide on contact with the enzyme linamarase.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.