The Grass Guide: White Clover
Life cycle: Cool-season perennial
Native to: Eastern Mediterranean region
Identification: Trifoliate leaves with a white crescent mark and white flowers
White clover is the most widely found pasture legume in the United States. It grows in most states, but it predominates from Missouri east due to its lack of drought tolerance. Mostly seen in pastures and fields, white clover grows better on well-drained loam or clay soils than sandy soils. White clover is an excellent choice to add to pastures to increase overall forage quality and provide nitrogen to grasses.
White clover is very competitive and can overrun other species because it spreads easily by above ground runners (called stolons). A shallow root system means that white clover needs cool, moist conditions for optimum growth, but is still winter hardy in all but the most northern states.
Krista Lea, MS, coordinator of UK’s Horse Pasture Evaluation Program; AnnMarie Kadnar, master’s student; and Ray Smith, PhD, professor and forage extension specialist, all within UK’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, provided this information.
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