Plant of the day: rose clover

There are so many clovers around that they can be daunting to identify. But this little one has long caught my eye—partly because of the pretty pink color of its petals, combined with the many long green teeth of the calyx. But mostly I just like how it invariably has one little leaf coming directly off the flower. It may be strange but I find that adorable. Of course it turns out that botanically speaking the leaf isn’t actually part of the flower, it just appears to be so. In science-speak, the “heads are sessile above the uppermost leaves and stipules”. But that is good enough for me.

Rose clover (Trifolium hirtum) is native to Europe, not California. But it is now so ubiquitous as to be described by the authorities as “one of the most common” of the European species that have naturalized here.

You can pretty much tell rose clover from other species of clover because it has all of the following features: (a) It is hairy but doesn’t get cottony when it goes to seed; (b) Its showy, rosy flowers; (c) It’s an annual not a perennial; (e) That cute little leaf.

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Filed under Invasive, Non-native, Plant of the day

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