Alsike Clover

Trifolium hybridum L.

Order - Fabales

Family - Fabaceae


Trifolium is from the Latin tres meaning 3 and folium meaning leaf and refers to the 3 leaflets.


Alsike Clover

Other Names:


A robust, short lived perennial herb with erect or low lying hollow stems to 600 mm long carrying trifoliate leaves with toothed elliptical leaflets.




First leaves:


Leaves have 3 stalkless leaflets.

Stipules - 12-22 mm long, papery, joined to the petiole at the base. The free section is triangular or oblong and tapered.

Petiole - yes.

Blade - Of leaflets, 18-35 mm long by 10-22 mm wide, oval to egg shaped, sharply toothed. Tip is notched or obtuse.


Up to 600 mm long, hollow, semi erect.

Flower head:

Globular, 15-20 mm dimeter, on stalks (peduncles) in leaf axils.


White or pink, pea type flowers on stalks (pedicels) which bend back after flowering.

Ovary -

Calyx - Membranous, 3-4 mm long with a 1-2 mm long, white tube and 2-3 mm long, green, narrow tapering lobes of differing lengths. Usually 5 veined but sometimes 10 veined. Throat open and hairless on the inside.

Perianth -

Sepals -

Petals - White or pink, 8-9 mm long. Limb of standard egg shaped with a blunt tip.

Stamens -

Anthers -


Oblong pod, 3-4 mm long by 2 mm wide that is not enclosed by the calyx.


Brown, globular, 1mm diameter.


Key Characters:

Leaves trifoliate.

Leaflets stalkless.

Flowers on pedicels that are reflexed in fruit

Flowers pink or white, 6-9 mm long.

Calyx 5 or 10 veined, throat open and glabrous.

Fruiting calyx not inflated.

Pod up to 4 mm long, not enclosed and often slight exerted from the calyx.


Life cycle:

Short lived perennial legume. Sown in early autumn and produces a flush of growth in spring.


Frost tolerant.

Sensitive to high temperatures.

Flooding tolerant.

Persists in low fertility areas but responds well to fertilisation.

Fixes nitrogen.


Flowering times:

November and January in Perth.

Seed Biology and Germination:

1480 seeds/gram. Little hard seed.

Vegetative Propagules:


A number of commercial cultivars exist.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed and intentional planting.

Origin and History:

Mediterranean, Europe, Western Asia.

Widely cultivated in Europe.







Tolerant of very acid and very alkaline soils and poorly drained soils.

Plant Associations:



Fodder pasture. Moderately palatable. Used mainly for hay in cool high rainfall or irrigated areas especially where flooding occurs and White Clover does not persist.



Not recorded as toxic. Photosensitivity has been reported.



Management and Control:


Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for 5 years.

Exclude stock to prevent dispersal of seed and burrs.

Hand pull isolated plants in winter before flowering. For small infestations and grass dominant areas an annual application of 10 mL Tordon®75-D in 10 L water in early winter gives excellent control of existing plants and has residual activity to control seedlings.

In bushland, 200 g/ha Lontrel®750 or 50 g/ha Logran® applied in early winter provides reasonably selective control. Use 25 mL wetting agent plus 4 g Lontrel®750 or 1 g Logran® or 0.1 g metsulfuron(600g/L) or 0.1 g chlorsulfuron(750g/kg) in 10 L water for hand spraying when they are actively growing. Repeat annually for several years. Plant tall growing perennial species to reduce re-invasion.

Clovers are relatively tolerant to glyphosate, grazing and mowing.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Susceptible to Spotted Alfalfa Aphid.

Related plants:

Alsike Clover (Trifolium hybridum)

Arrowleaf Clover (Trifolium vesiculosum)

Balansa Clover (Trifolium balansae)

Berseem Clover (Trifolium alexandrinum)

Birdsfoot Trefoil (Trifolium ornithopodioides)

Bladder Clover (Trifolium spumosum)

Caucasian Clover (Trifolium ambiguum)

Cluster Clover, Ball Clover (Trifolium glomeratum) is a ground-hugging plant with broad leaflets, 5-22 mm long, and globular heads of pink flowers.

Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

Cupped Clover (Trifolium cherleri)

Drooping flowered Clover (Trifolium cernuum)

Gland Clover (Trifolium glandulosum)

Globe Clover (Trifolium globosum)

Hop Clover (Trifolium campestre) is a sprawling plant with fairly broad leaflets, 4-15 mm long, and globular to ovoid heads of yellow flowers. The standard petal is not furrowed and it has 20-50 flowers in the head.

Hare's Foot Clover (Trifolium arvense) is an erect or sprawling plant with narrow leaflets 5-20 mm long and ovoid to shortly cylindric heads of white or pink flowers.

Kenya White Clover (Trifolium semipilosum)

Knotted Clover (Trifolium striatum)

Lappa Clover (Trifolium lappaceum)

Ligurian Clover (Trifolium ligusticum)

Narrow-leaved Clover (Trifolium angustifolium) is an erect plant with long narrow leaflets, 15-75 mm long, and cylindric heads of pink flowers.

Purple Clover (Trifolium purpureum)

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Rose Clover (Trifolium hirtum) is a hairy plant with fairly broad leaflets, 10-25 mm long, and globular to semi-globular heads of pink to purple flowers.

Rough Clover (Trifolium scabrum)

Sea Clover (Trifolium squamosum)

Shaftal Clover (Trifolium resupinatum)

Slender Suckling Clover (Trifolium micranthum)

Star Clover (Trifolium stellatum)

Strawberry Clover (Trifolium fragiferum)

Subterranean Clover (Trifolium subterraneum) is a ground-hugging plant with broad leaflets, 6-22 mm long, and few-flowered heads of white flowers that form globular buried burrs.

Suckling Clover (Trifolium dubium) is a sprawling or ground-hugging plant with fairly broad leaflets, 4-12 mm long, and loose globular heads of yellow flowers.

Suffocated Clover (Trifolium suffocatum)

White Clover (Trifolium repens) is a ground-hugging plant with broad leaflets, 4-12 mm long, which often have a pale v-shaped band and globular heads of white flowers.

Woolly Clover (Trifolium tomentosum) is a sprawling plant with broad leaflets, 4-13 mm long and globular heads of pink flowers which become woolly with age.

Zigzag Clover (Trifolium medium)

Trifolium strictum

Plants of similar appearance:

Medics, Trefoils, Oxalis spp.


Gardner, G.A. and Bennetts, H.W. (1956). The toxic plants of Western Australia. (West Australian Newspapers Ltd, Perth). P106-107. Diagram.

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). # 1228.14.

Marchant et al (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P304.

Reid, R.L. (1990) The Manual of Australian Agriculture. (Butterworths, Sydney). P271.


Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or for more information.