Nature’s Green Dress…

“I am clover: I am everywhere”, the fields in Spring and Summer seem to say. Sometimes yellow, sometimes pink, sometimes white, and always green, the clover patches spread to infinity and softly relax to the treads of man and beast. What flower is so common that we encounter it daily and are so accustomed to its finery that we accept it as part of the worldly background? Clover is, indeed, everywhere. We rid it from our lawns mildly cursing its persistence. Farmers plant it by the acre adding fuel to the soil for more palatable crops. Vacant fields sprout millions curbing erosion, feeding deer and rabbits, and adding to our visual pleasure. Have you ever hunted for a four leaf clover? With a find as rare as an emerald, we think we will have good luck for a year or at least today. Such is clover.

The state flower of Vermont – the Red Clover.

Vermont, our next alphabetical journey destination, has made the Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) its state wildflower and given a sense of recognition to a much maligned and taken for granted gift of nature. Red Clover is not native to the US; instead, it comes from Europe, Western Asia , and Northwest Africa where it graces every field, hillside, and river shore. The flower itself is simple and the flower head consists of over a hundred individual blossoms. The Red Clover is more pink, sometimes maroon or lavender, than red. “Red” belongs to the Crimson Clover, another European immigrant. “Yellow” belongs to the Hop Clover from Europe also. As we all know, “White” is the domain of White Clover or Dutch Clover and guess where it is originally from.

The title of “Red Clover” should belong to the Crimson Clover.
The Hop Clover is very common in fields across the US, but often overlooked since it is low growing and doesn’t reach out and grab you like the showier red and crimson varieties.
I see it! A four leaf clover in this patch of White.

Are there any native clovers? The answer is Yes and they go by names that give their American heritage away. Buffalo Clover, Prairie Clover, Woolyhead Clover are all part of the sixty or so native clover types of the over 250 varieties worldwide. Some are endangered; most are forgotten; and all the natives have been overlooked by wildflower hunters as they are just clover – just another three leaved green dress of nature.

Running Buffalo Clover is a native variety that spreads by runners along the ground surface.
Purple Prairie Clover is a unique native clover. Note the slender leaves.
Woolyhead Clover, another native species, has five leaves. Is that luckier than a four leaf find?
A touch of Pink, or I should say, Red Clover. Thank you, Vermont! Common is uncommonly pretty.

And now in our virtual state wildflower adventure, we are off to Virginia where a tree that grows in everyone’s front yard will be our study choice.

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