Trifolium incarnatum is more commonly known as Crimson clover, Italian clover, and French clover. Native to Southern Europe, it grows as winter forage. It is also endemic of Southeastern and Pacific-coastal USA. It is a pubescent annual from the Fabaceae family, which grows, semi-erect to erect to a height of 20-50 cm tall. It blooms a crown flower of 3-5 cm long, which is strawberry-red to crimson-red in color, hence the name “Crimson clover”. The plant presents very few side branches. It has wide trifoliate leaves with rounded tips, which become purple with age. One plant can produce 75-125 flowers, highly pollinated by bees with both male and female organs. The fruit contains a single seed. The seeds are oval, about 2.5 mm long, and creamy to light brown in color.
Crimson clover is mainly grown as forage that is rich in protein for cattle and other livestock. It is also a very efficient cover crop that improves soil and helps prevent soil erosion. Crimson clover benefits the soil by adding nitrogen that will improve yields of other nearby crops while helping to crowd out other unwanted weeds. It also attracts beneficial insects. Crimson clover is taller and grows more quickly than red clover. Growers have found crimson clover convenient because it is shade-tolerant and grows well even at cold temperatures. Crimson clover, as a wildflower, is mostly found in fields, forest margins, and roadsides. It is usually seeded as soon as possible after grain crops have been cleared from fields. Since it grows so quickly, it produces a large amount of food for livestock.
Crimson clover is also good to produce hay and green manure. It can only be harvested once, as the plant does not grow again after being mown. But spent plants enrich the soil with organic matter.
Growing Information: Sow the seed on the surface of the soil like grass seed. Maintain even moisture. You can use straw as mulch to maintain soil moisture.
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