WHITE CLOVER (Trifoliurn repens L.) Plate 19; Seed, Plate 27, Fig. 31. Other English name: Dutch Clover.
Botanical description: White Clover is a perennial which in its natural state grows in patches. The stems are creeping and root at the joints. A single plant has thus the faculty of spreading over a wide area. From the stems, trailing along the surface of the ground, are developed upright leaves and flower-bearing heads, both provided with long stalks. In daytime and under normal conditions the three leaflets of which each leaf consists spread on the same level, giving the plant its well-known deep green shade. Toward evening, however, the plants take on quite a different look. The three-cleft leaves seem to have disappeared and to be replaced by small leaves of a bluish grey colour. When the sun begins to set, the two lateral leaflets move down toward the leaf stalk, at the same time turning so as to stand finally face to face. The central leaflet leans over, turning its bluish grey lower side upward so as to cover the two lateral leaflets. When the lateral leaflets are face to face and the central leaflet turned over their edge, the leaf is said to be asleep. Similar movements may be observed in any of the common species of clover and in a great number of other plants. They are especially conspicuous in the Shamrock.
The heads of White Clover develop from the lower parts of the stem, the heads of Alsike from the upper. White Clover heads are smaller than those of Alsike and the flowers are pure white. As in other clover species, the flowering starts from the base of the head. As the blossoms turn brown and remain so without falling, the same head may be white in the upper part and brown in the lower.
Biology of flower: White Clover is fertilized by insects which carry pollen from one flower to another. Seeds will not develop unless the flowers are fertilized by pollen from another plant. The blossoms are rich in honey, and as this can be reached by the ordinary honey bee, White Clover is of great importance to beekeepers. When ripe the pods are oblong and contain three to five seeds.
Geographical distribution: White Clover is indigenous to all Europe, southwestern Asia, Siberia and northern Africa. It is also claimed to be native to Canada and the United States, but this is doubtful. The locations where it occurs naturally in Canada are