The field clover commonly called hop clover is a beautiful wild plant widespread throughout the Italian territory used as forage for livestock, appreciated in agriculture and gardening as an ornamental plant.
General characteristics of the field clover – Trifolium campestre
The Trifoglio campestre, scientific name Trifolium campestre, is an annual herbaceous plant of the Fabaceae family (Leguminosae) widespread in all Italian regions. It grows spontaneously in uncultivated and arid soils, in the cracks in the walls and along the edges of the paths, at altitudes between 0-800 meters above sea level.
It is a herbaceous plant with very thin, milky-white, fasciculated roots which, like those of other legume varieties, host symbiotic bacteria capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen and transforming it into highly nutritious protein compounds.
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It has stems, erect or ascending, slightly hairy, 15 to 30 cm high, sometimes branched from the base; they are reddish-green in color covered with beautiful foliage. In winter the stems dry up but the new ones will be thrown back in the following spring.
The leaves are alternate, trifoliate, with an elliptical-lobed shape with a serrated page in the lower half. The middle leaf is larger than the other two and also has a longer petiole. The leaf stipules are lanceolate and the color of the leaves varies from pale green to dark green.
THE flowers they are hermaphroditic and grouped (20-30) in ovate flower-heads which emerge from the extremities of the leaf axils on peduncles some centimeters long. Each flower is a dialipetal tubule with a corolla with separate yellow petals that turn brown when ripe. The corolla has the upper petal vexillum) facing the apex. The chalice is gamosepalo and is made up of sepals welded together. The flowers of the field clover attract butterflies and pollination occurs mainly by bees, particularly greedy bees greedy for their nectar.
THE fruits they are small legumes called samaras, enclosed in the chalice.
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THE seeds, one per samara, are very small, smooth and yellow in color. The seeds of the Clover are fertile and when they fall to the ground they germinate giving life to new plants. Dissemination also takes place by the wind.
Field clover blooms from spring to late summer, usually from April to August.
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The clover it is a plant that grows almost everywhere and without problems, in sunny and semi-shaded places. It bears the heat but does not withstand the cold well.
This spontaneous plant adapts to any type of soil, as long as it is well drained even if it prefers those with a medium texture, fresh and not very calcareous, with a pH that varies between 5 and 7.5.
It is a plant that resists long periods of drought well and without problems and, even if the leaves tend to curl up, as soon as they receive water they regain their natural turgidity. To have a beautiful green and healthy plant it is advisable to irrigate it in the summer months.
To favor the germination of seeds and the growth of seedlings, the cultivation soil must be enriched with nutrients with a fertilizer poor in nitrogen (N).
Clover: cultivation in pots
This herbaceous plant is also easy to grow in pots or long rectangular planters with well-drained specific soil. It will be enough to inseminate it, keep the soil moist until the seedlings appear. Afterwards, it is enough to wet the ground from time to time to enjoy a mini flowery meadow.
It is done at the end of winter when the roots come out of the drainage holes of the pot and the aerial part of the plant has no more space available.
In pots and in the open ground, the field clover can be combined with wild geranium or Stellaria or centocchio.
Multiplication of the clover
The clover is a plant that reproduces easily and quickly by seed and by vegetative way through the division of the tufts.
The sowing of the field clover is carried out in spring in regions characterized by a harsh winter climate, between September-October in those where the minimum temperatures do not drop below 4 ° C and all year round in those with mild winters.
The seeds, small and light, must first be mixed with sand or soil and spread over the well-worked soil, free of weeds and then covered with a light layer of soil kept moist.
The seeds germinate after only 2 days. After 48 hours from the ground sprouts composed of 2 lobes and 2 lobes, a third after 5-6 days and vigorous seedlings after 15 days.
All dry stems must be eliminated at the base of the soil.
Pests and diseases of the field clover
Also this species of Clover does not suffer from the attacks of common parasites but is sensitive to Rust, a fungal disease that forms brownish spots on the leaves with the formation of unsightly brown-reddish spots; fears the sore sclerotia or sclerotinia a disease caused by a fungus of the Ascomycetes family which leads to the death of plants by necrosis and which usually occurs in hot-humid climatic conditions.
Cures and treatments
The field clover does not tolerate weeds and therefore must be freed from them by manual weeding. Any treatments should be carried out only if suffering from fungal diseases.
Field clover like other Clover species is used as protein-rich forage to feed livestock and in agriculture in the crop rotation system to replenish nitrogen in the soil and improve soil fertility. It is also an excellent melliferous and diuretic plant.
The hop clover is also cultivated in pots as an ornamental plant; it is also used to carpet rock gardens or cover walls. Due to its elegant prostrate posture, the rich and decorative flowering is also perfect in hanging baskets or wall vases.
The name of the genus that comes from the Latin trifolium alludes to the shape of the leaves and the specific epithet to its natural habitat.
The field clover is widespread throughout Italy and its name varies from region to region.
In Friuli it is called Jerbe medica zale, Trefoiì in Lombardy, Cecerello salvatico di prato, luppolino, wild daisies in Tuscany, Murigghia in Sicily and Truvuddu in Sardinia.