Plant of the day: balloon clover

Here is another tiny plant of the meadows. When I first saw the arrangement of pointy purple globules, I thought they were the seeds of some spent flower. But when I looked closer I saw the white lips of petals peeking from beneath each point. It turns out the globules aren’t solid, like seeds, at all. Instead this is Trifolium depauperatum, a type of clover where the flower forms an inflated sack – hence its many names (balloon clover, dwarf sack clover, cowbag clover). Click on the photos below to get a better view of this nifty little flower.

There are two features which reveal that this plant is likely to be a clover: first, the three-leafleted leaves, which all clovers have (though some are longer and some are rounder). Second, the fact that the flowers are all clustered together into a single head at the end of the stalk.

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