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Trifolium longipes

Trifolium longipes

Trifolium longipes

Trifolium longipes
Trifolium longipes (Long-stalked Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Meadows. Summer.
Above: Far western San Juan National Forest, June 3, 2015.
Left: Navajo Lake Trail, June 30, 2008.

Trifolium longipes is easily mistaken for Trifolium pratense (Red Clover), or for Trifolium repens (White Clover). Following are comparisons:

T. longipes vs. T. pratense: flowers of the former are most often white or a light pink, and they are not subtended by large, leaf-like bracts.  Leaves of T. longipes are long, narrow, slightly serrated, and evenly colored; leaves of T. pratense are oval, variegated green, and smooth-edged.

T. longipes vs. T. repens: the former does not have stolons (runners like those of strawberries) and does not root at the nodes; the latter does both.

Arrows in the photograph immediately above point to two distinctions:  1) The flower head stem (the peduncle) has short, pointed hairs and  2) the stipules (the sheath at the base of the leaves) are quite large, green, and leaf-like. (You can also see the stipules in the last two photographs below).

Trifolium longipes is found in all western states. Weber states that it is "widely distributed, especially in southern counties" and Welsh states that "this is the common Clover in the mountains of Utah".

Linnaeus named this genus in 1753 and Thomas Nuttall named this species in 1838 from a specimen he collected in the "valleys of the central chain of the Rocky Mountain range..." (quotation from Intermountain Flora) in his mid-1830s trip across the continent.  "Longipes" is Latin for "long stalked".

Trifolium longipes
Trifolium longipes (Long-stalked Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Meadows. Summer.
Navajo Lake Trail, June 30, 2008.

Flowers are upright when fresh, but nod in age.

Stems can be upright, as shown at left, or decumbent (reclining on the ground but with ascending tips), as shown in the top three photographs. In southwest Colorado at the lower elevations of 7,400 to 8,500 feet, the prostrate form is often very common. I have only found the upright form in a few places at higher elevations.

Trifolium longipes
Trifolium longipes (Long-stalked Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Meadows. Summer.
Navajo Lake Trail, June 30, 2008 and far western San Juan National Forest, July 17, 2020.

Flower heads dry golden brown and nodding. Notice the shape of the very light-colored calyx with very hairy lobes that are much longer than the tube.

                  Trifolium longipes

Trifolium longipes

Trifolium longipes

Trifolium longipes (Long-stalked Clover)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Meadows. Summer.
Far western San Juan National Forest, July 17, 2020.

Leaflets are 3-5 cm long, strongly veined, glabrous above, and glabrous to quite hairy below (as in the photograph at bottom left).

As shown at the left side of the top photograph, stipules are large and leaf-like.

Leaf margins are often strongly denticulate (toothed), as you can see at the bottom center of the lower photograph.

                 

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 longipes