Hare's foot Clover

Trifolium arvense L.

Family: - Fabaceae.


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

Arvense is from the Latin arvum meaning cultivated field and refers to the plants association with cultivation.

Hare's foot Clover.

Other names:

Calf Clover

Pussy Clover

Rabbits foot Clover

Stone Clover


An erect or spreading, hairy, trifoliate leaved annual or biennial legume with narrow leaflets, 5-20 mm long, that are oval, notched and finely toothed near the tips. It has small white to pink flowers in spring to early summer and a furry lavender coloured cylindrical "hare's foot" seed head at the ends of the stems.

Native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa, it flowers from late winter to summer.



Two. Oval. Tip rounded. Sides convex. Base tapered. Surface hairless.

First leaves:

First leaf has only one leaflet that is heart shaped with a few hairs on the edges and on a long petiole. Second and later leaves are have 3 heart shaped leaflets.


3 leaflets with virtually no stalks. Alternate.

Stipules - Veined, striped, 4-10 mm long, often reddish. Free part narrow and tapering to thread-like. Joined to the petiole for half their length.

Petiole - Long on lower leaves. Short on stem leaves.

Blade - Of leaflet, 6-20 x 1.5-4 mm, oval to oblong, tiny teeth near the tip. Rounded tip that is usually notched. Grey hairs.

Stem leaves - leaves have a short petiole. Lower leaflets are elliptic to egg shaped with a rounded tip. Upper leaflets slightly longer and narrower with a more pointed tip.


Erect or spreading, up to 500 mm long. Hairy with long spreading grey hairs.

Flower head:

Lavender coloured, globular to cylindrical or egg shaped, 8-30 mm long by 8-12 mm diameter, at the ends of stems or arising from leaf axils on long slender stalks(peduncles). Hairy and soft.


Tiny, pink, almost stalkless, pea type.

Ovary -

Calyx - 5 lobed, tubular, 4.5-6 mm long, 10 veined.. Densely hairy. Tube 1.5-2 mm long, egg shaped, throat almost hairless inside. Lobes, a dark red colour, thread-like, 3-4 mm long and hairy or bristly.

Petals - White to pink, narrow, shorter than the calyx. Limb of standard oblong and about 3 mm long, with a rounded tip. Keel slightly shorter than the wings with an obtuse tip.

Stamens - 10 with 9 in a group.

Anthers -


Small one or rarely two seeded pod, egg shaped, 1-1.5 mm long, hidden by persistent calyx.


Yellowish brown, egg shaped, 1 mm long, shiny.


Has nodules for fixing Nitrogen.

Key Characters:

Upper leaflets narrowly oblong, 6-20 by 1.5-4 mm. Stipules fused to petiole for half their length. Many sessile flowers in the ovoid, ellipsoid or cylindric head. Heads on straight peduncles and arsing from axils or terminal and conical or cylindrical when mature. Flowers pink and all fertile. Corolla 3-4 mm long and shorter than calyx lobes. Standard shorter than calyx. Calyx not inflated, 10 nerved with plumose, narrow, straight lobes, 4.5-6 mm long. One seeded pod, 1.5-2 mm long, hidden by the calyx. Stems slender and branching. Annual.


Life cycle:

Annual or biennial. Seeds germinate in autumn and winter. Flowers from September to December. It will continue growing through the summer if moisture is available.


Has symbiotic rhizobia in nodules in the roots that fix atmospheric nitrogen.


By seed.

Flowering times:

Spring to early summer in western NSW.

October to December in SA.

September to November in Perth.

Spring in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:



Trifolium arvense var. glabrum is almost hairless, even on the calyx lobes.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Origin and History:

Europe. Western Asia. Northern Africa.




Sandy to loamy red earths and duplex soils.


Temperate. Mediterranean


Sandy to loamy red earths. Duplex soils.

Plant Associations:

Jarrah, red gum and a range of other wood land communities.



Palatable fodder but only produces a small bulk of feed.


Weed of crops, roadsides, parklands, recreational areas, lawns, gardens and disturbed areas.


Heads can form hair balls in the stomachs of stock, especially horses.


Loss of appetite.



Management and Control:

Dicamba and sulfonylurea herbicides provide good 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:

Biological Control:

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.


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