Crimson Clover – Trifolium incarnatum

Crimson Clover
Crimson Clover

This common annual cover crop is a native to southern Europe and often escapes cultivation to be found on roadsides, fields and empty lots. Being brought to the US originally in 1819 as forage for cattle, it is also used for erosion control, and beautification. It grows well in apple orchards acting in a beneficial way to improve flavors. It is a poor companion with camellias and gooseberries. It harbors a mite that may cause fruit drop and premature budding in the camellias.

The seeds can be sprouted and eaten in salads. They can also be dried and ground into nutritious flour. Dried flower heads are a tea substitute. Although used for human nutrition on occasion it is a protein rich forage crop for cattle and other livestock.

It makes an excellent, fast growing green manure that fixes nitrogen in the soil. Crimson clover may be used as a cover crop, green manure, pasture, or hay. It often is used as a winter annual cover crop in annual rotations. It is used in orchards and vineyards where it manages to reseed itself.

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