Common Name: Red Clover

Botanical NameTrifolium pratense

Family: Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Description: Dense, rounded, head-like masses of magenta pea-like flowers on an erect, hairy stem, with leaves divided into three oval leaflets.  Flowers are ½” long, in heads about 1” long and ½ – 1” wide; upper petal folded over two fused lower petals and lateral petals.  Leaflets are ½ – 2” long, each with a lighter, v-shaped pattern near the middle.  Height 6 – 24”.

Habitat and Range: Old fields, lawns, and roadsides; throughout the Eastern Region of the US.

Parts Used: Flower-heads

Collection: Gather flower-heads between May and September.

Historical Notes: Introduced from Europe and extensively planted here as hay and pasture crop.  It stores nitrogen in its root nodules and is used in crop rotation to improve soil fertility.  Its familiar three-lobed leaves were associated by medieval Christians with the Trinity.  In the 1930s the flowers became popular as an anticancer remedy and may still be prescribed to breast, ovarian, and lymphatic cancer sufferers.

Folklore: To dream of a field of clover is very fortunate.

Flower Essence: For those desiring a deeper, wider, more full-spectrum experience of consciousness, yet feeling unsettled with the process.  Red clover flower essence nourishes a centered sense of calm and safety during the transition process.

Constituents: Phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, saponins, resins, volatile oils, cyanogenic glycosides, and mineral acids.

Actions: Alterative, antispasmodic, expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, possible estrogenic activity.

Taste: Slightly sweet, cool, moist

Tissue State: Warm, dry, atrophy

Organ Affinities: Glands of the body/congestion or excess secretion, thins the blood/circulatory system, skin.

Applications and Indications: Red clover is a specific for swollen parotids (mumps), salivary gland congestion or excess secretion, lymphatic congestion, and other swollen, puffed up problems with glands.  It is also used for insect bites and stings, eczema, psoriasis, arthritic pains and gout, lymphatic swellings, conjunctivitis, vaginal itching, stubborn and dry coughs, in wine for urinary stones, root for dropsy, breast, and ovarian lymphatic cancer sufferers.  It will help encyst cancerous tissue, but will seldom cure cancer.  Red clover is one of the most useful remedies for children with skin problems, as well as being valuable to adults.  The expectorant and antispasmodic actions make this herb useful in treating coughs and bronchitis, especially whooping cough.

Preparations and Dosage: Infusion:  Pour one cup boiling water over 1 – 3 tsp. Of dried herb; infuse 10 – 15 minutes.  Drink 3x/day.  Tincture:  2 – 6 ml, 3x/day.  A thick poultice may be used to rid one of athlete’s foot.  Crush fresh flowers and apply to insect bites and stings.  Ointment:  For lymphatic swellings, cover fresh flowers with water and simmer in a slow cooker for 48 hrs.  Strain, evaporate the residue to semi-dryness, and combine with an equal amount of ointment base.

Contraindications and Side Effects: Red clover contains natural coumarins which thin the blood.


Rose, Jeanne.  Herbs & Things, San Francisco, CA:  Last Gasp of San Francisco, 1972, 2001

National Audubon Society, Inc.  The Audubon Society, Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region, 2nd Printing, New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1979

Hoffmann, David.  The Herbal Handbook, A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism, Rochester, Vermont:  Healing Arts Press, 1987, 1988

Ody, Penelope.  The Complete Medicinal Herbal, New York, NY:  Dorling Kindersley, Inc., 1993

Wood, Matthew.  The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism, Berkeley, CA:  North Atlantic Books, 2004

Wood, Matthew.  The Earthwise Herbal:  A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants, Berkeley, CA:  North Atlantic Books, 2008


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