3 Herb Mamas

Wednesday’s Weeds: RED CLOVER

on June 4, 2014


Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) watercolor painted in the field by a student while participating in a weed walk and now gracing one of my many herbal experiments diaries.

Red Clover speaks volumes about the value of common…and commonly overlooked…plants. I admit that I use it so commonly in my daily tea blends that I nearly overlooked including here myself. I sometimes forget what a powerhouse this herb has been for me. It is readily available in many open fields and lawns in my community but the season is generally relatively short since it likes the cool days of late spring and early summer. Once the intense heat of summer gets started Red Clover goes dormant. It will spring back in the fall once the days cool down a bit again and you can fit in a few more harvests before the frosts hit.

Red clover is very rich in minerals, especially calcium, nitrogen, magnesium, and iron. It also provides many B vitamins and C. You might see why it is in almost every pot of daily tea blend I make. What a great foundational herb since the flavor is mild and delicious. Since it is a detoxifying herb it is often included in formulas for addressing skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. It is one of the herbs used in the famous Essiac anti-cancer formula as well as traditionally addressing issues with tumors, cysts and fibroids. I have had excellent success with Red Clover (1 quart of tea consumed daily) when an PAP smear result showed atypical cell growth after only one month of use. It is also used as a respiratory tonic and would combine well with Mullein leaves and your favorite Mint family plants for this purpose. It can be tinctured as well, although I most enjoy it as a tea.


Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) in the field. Note the whitish chevrons on the leaves, an identifying characteristic.

Red Clover is a common seed added to pasture grasses for pastures where cattle and other livestock graze because it makes an excellent companion for grasses due to its nitrogen-fixing abilities. It performs better in acid soils and establishes more quickly than Alfalfa, and Red Clover is more drought tolerant than White Clover. It is easy to seed along with any cover crops you might grow in your gardens to help it establish near your home. I like Red Clover and Oats together.

Finding good quality dried Red Clover blossoms commercially is no easy matter. Additionally, it is quite expensive, over $30 per pound from most sources. Many years ago I neglected to dry enough Red Clover for the year and I purchased some from what I considered a reputable source. Below is a photo of that commercial Red Clover alongside my own wild-crafted and home dried. I am sure you can tell which is which and you can be sure that I’ve taken care to gather plenty in subsequent years.


Rosemary Gladstar has taught that a dried plant should look, smell, and taste like the fresh version, lacking nothing except the water it contained. I try to hold that standard for my cultivated or wild-crafted, home-prepared herbs. I dry Red Clover at low heat and store it in glass jars in a closed cupboard away from light and heat.


Freshly gathered Red Clover. I can gather for drying about half a gallon on my morning walks.


On the left is the last of the 2013 harvest and on the right is the first of the 2014 harvest. 

Carpe diem! ~Leenie

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