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Trifolium gymnocarpon

Trifolium gymnocarpon

Trifolium gymnocarpon

Trifolium gymnocarpon subspecies gymnocarpon (Holly Leaf Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane.  Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Mesa Verde National Park, April 26, 2007 and
Near Gallup, New Mexico, May 3, 2015.

Trifolium gymnocarpon spreads four or five inches along the ground but grows no more than an inch or two tall.  It is common to find many plants near each other.  Leaves probably first attract attention, for the flowers blend in with the soils that they rest on.

Thomas Nuttall first collected this plant on the "dry hills of the Rocky Mountain range, near the sources of the Sweetwater of the Platte" in 1834 and named the plant in a publication of Torrey and Gray in 1838.  (Quotation from Intermountain Flora.) "Gymno carpon" is Greek for "naked fruit".

Trifolium gymnocarpon
Trifolium gymnocarpon subspecies gymnocarpon (Holly Leaf Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane.  Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Mesa Verde National Park, April 26, 2007.

Trifolium gymnocarpon
Trifolium gymnocarpon subspecies gymnocarpon (Holly Leaf Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane.  Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Mesa Verde National Park, April 26, 2007.

Although the white pattern on the leaves is very common, some leaves are completely green. See the second and third photographs above.

Trifolium repens
Trifolium repens (White Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Meadows. Spring, summer.
Kilpacker Trail, August 1, 2007.

From city parks to front lawns to mountain meadows to pastures, White Clover makes itself known and at home. It spreads on rooting runners in large mats across the ground and puts out abundant, long lasting, sweet smelling flowers on erect or reclining stems.  The flower stems are often very leggy with few leaflets that are easily stripped off allowing the long flower stems to be tied together to make floral necklaces and bracelets.  Horses, cattle and many wild critters forgo the jewelry and munch on the entire plant.  Bees adore the plant.

Trifolium repens is a native of Eurasia but is now found in all temperate climates.

Linnaeus named this genus and species in 1753.  "Repens" is Latin for "creeping".

Trifolium repens
Trifolium repens (White Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Meadows. Spring, summer.
Cross Mountain Trail, August 19, 2008.

Trifolium repens
Trifolium repens (White Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Meadows. Spring, summer.
Cross Mountain Trail, August 19, 2008.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Trifolium gymnocarpon  

Range map for Trifolium repens