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Strawberry Clover

Trifolium fragiferum

  • Family: Pea Family – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 10–30 cm (4–12 in.). Stem limp, rooting from joints, hairy.
  • Flower: Corolla zygomorphic, light red, 5–7 mm (0.2–0.28 in.) long, fused at base. Petals 5; the upstanding the ‘standard’, the lateral two the ‘wings’, the lower two united to form the ‘keel’, overall shape of corolla being butterfly-like. Calyx 5-lobed, hairy, finally light grey, oval and densely net-veined. Stamens 10. A single carpel. Inflorescence a long-stalked, densely globose head.
  • Leaves: Alternate, long-stalked, stipulate. Blade with 3 leaflets; leaflets obovate, with notched tips and finely toothed margins. Stipules membranous, mainly united with stalks.
  • Fruit: Indehiscent pod, remains inside calyx.
  • Habitat: Shore-side meadows, harbours.
  • Flowering time: July–August.
  • Endangerment: Near threatened.

Strawberry clover is like white clover with regards to its size and the way it grows, although its inflorescence is somewhat smaller and its corollas are more reddish. It is easiest to identify the plant when it is in fruit: the infructescence, which is comprised of small, round, bladder-like calyxes pressing against each other, looks more like a greyish strawberry than white clover’s infructescence, which is covered in its withering brown corolla. Both the species’ scientific name fragifer, ”strawberry-bearing” and its common name in many different languages refers to this unique feature. The calyxes enclose the ripening pods and last long into the autumn. Light and airy bladders travel efficiently on the waves and the wind to new horizons.

Strawberry clover can usually be found in lower seaside meadows, close to the water line. If one was to look only at its Finnish habitats it seems to clearly be a sea-shore plant, but in fact it doesn’t demand salt. Outside Finland it grows inland too if the soil contains sufficient mineral salt. In Finland it only grows on the Åland Islands, where the soil is calciferous, and close to a few harbours on the south and west coast, where it is mainly a casual ballast soil plant.

Upon close inspection strawberry clover can be told apart from white clover both when they are flowering and when they are not: its calyx is abundantly hairy while white clover’s is glabrous, its flowers are short-stalked, and white clover’s flowers are smaller and reddish. Additionally, its leaves are smaller and hairier.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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