Clovers
(Trifolium and
Melilotus spp.)

Bugs Bunny
A Pictorial Portrait
Clovers have leaves in sets of three, and compact flower heads that consist of many tiny, pea-like, bilaterally symmetrical (2-sided) flowers. Some species have flowers that make excellent tea, and a few have edible flowers. Avoid bitter flowers that are turning brown, and choose those with the brightest color, which are tastiest.

Red Clover Painting

Red Clover (Trifolium praetense)

This is the tastiest of the clovers. Growing throughout the US, it's easiest to pick in late spring, when the greatest number of high-quality flowers bloom. It grows in meadows and on lawns, at its best in full sunlight.
Red Clover
Red Clover Flower Head
Pour a cup of boiling water over handful of red clover flower heads, cover, and steep 20 minutes. Strain out the flowers and enjoy a tasty, healthful tea. You may also pick the flowers from the flower head and use them raw or cooked. They taste a little like sweet string beans.
Red Clover Flower Head and Leaves
Red Clover Flower Head and Leaves
Note the prominent arrow-shaped, light-colored chevrons on the leaves. They help guide pollinator insects to the flower head.
White Clover Leaves
White Clover Leaves
White clover has 3 oval, finely toothed leaves that arise from a separate stalk from the flower head. Some people eat the very young leaves, although they may be hard to digest. Wood sorrel, with 3 heart-shaped leaves, is a completely different, unnrelated plant.
White Clover Flower Head
White Clover Flower Head (T. repens)
These flowers also make a good herb tea, although red clover is less labor intensive to collect and more healthful. This common, widespread plant also favors sunny meadows and lawns.
Wild Carrot Seed Head
White Sweet Clover in Flower (Melilotus alba)

This species also has leaves in sets of threes, and 2-sided flowers that are white. It grows in sunny fields and blooms in the summer.

White Sweet Clover Flower Head
White Sweet Clover Flower Stalk
These flowers grow on a long, erect flower stalk, rather than on a globular flower head. You can also use them to make tea. Avoid plants that have begun to decay, which are poisonous.
Yellow Sweet Clover in Flower
White Sweet Clover in Flower (Melilotus officinalis)

This plant is very similar to yellow sweet clover, except for the flower color

Yellow Sweet Clover Flower Stalk
Note the 2-parted symmetry of these flowers, with a large lip below a keel, characteristic of all clover flowers (as well as alfalfa).