Balansa Clover

Trifolium balansae Boiss.

Family: Fabaceae.

Names:

Trifolium is from the Latin tres meaning 3 and folium meaning leaf and refers to the 3 leaflets.
Balansa Clover refers to its species name and membership of the clover genus.

Summary:

A trifoliate leaved legume that grows slowly in winter and very quickly in spring producing long low lying slender stems with many white flowered seed heads.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two. Oval. Tip round. Sides convex. Base tapered. Petiole as long or longer than the blade.

First leaves:

First leaf single, round, oval or somewhat triangular with variable red-pink markings. Tip round. Edges smooth or slightly toothed. Base square. Hairless. Petiole longer than blade.
Second and later leaves trifoliate.

Leaves:

Alternate.
3 leaflets, all with similar length leaflet stalks.
Stipules - Spear shaped to triangular, joined to the stem at the base. Edges smooth and not toothed. Base pinkish green.
Petiole - Yes.
Blade - Of leaflets oval to round, 10-30 mm long x 10-20 mm wide. Variable leaf markings. Tip rounded with a small point. Edges toothed. Base tapered.

Stems:

Erect to weak and scrambling, hollow, very long and slender, up to 2000 mm long, becoming wiry as they mature.

Flower head:

A cluster of many flowers.

Flowers:

Whitish pea type turning brown when mature.
Ovary -
Calyx - 5 teeth
Petals - White, narrow. Keel slightly shorter than the wings with an obtuse tip.
Stamens - 10 with 9 in a group.
Anthers -

Fruit:

A globular cluster.

Seeds:

Yellow to red brown or black, globular, shiny, may be mottled, small 1 mm diameter. Slight groove down one side. Tip round. Edges smooth, round. Base indented.

Roots:

Has nitrogen fixing nodules.

Key Characters:

Trifoliate leaves with toothed margins.
Many white, pea type flowers in a globular cluster.
Black globular seed about 1 mm diameter.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual. Seeds germinate in autumn and early winter. It grows slowly over winter and produces prolifically in spring. It flowers in spring and dies with the onset of high temperatures and summer drought.

Physiology:

Waterlogging tolerant.
Salt tolerant.
Has symbiotic rhizobia in nodules on the roots that fix atmospheric nitrogen.

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

Spring in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

None.

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Balansa stubble appears to reduce the germination and growth of itself and companion species.

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by intentional planting and seeds dispersed by animal and water.
Very sensitive to Red Legged Earth Mite damage.

Origin and History:

Probably Eurasia.

Distribution:

WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate. Mediterranean.

Soil:

Prefers neutral to acid soil. Tolerates some salinity and waterlogging.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Fodder. Produces large amounts of feed in spring but little over winter. Palatable when young but less so if allowed to go rank.

Detrimental:

Weed of roadsides, crops and disturbed areas.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Dicamba and sulfonylurea herbicides provide good control.

Thresholds:

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:

Biological Control:

Red Legged Earth Mite normally keeps it at low levels in natural situations.

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 glanduliferum)
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 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 ground-hugging plant with loose globular heads of yellow flowers and fairly broad leaflets, 4-12 mm long and the end leaflet has a short stalk. 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.

References:

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). # 1228.5.

Moerkerk, M.R. and Barnett, A.G. (1998). More Crop Weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. P94. Diagrams. Photos.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.