Like White Clover, this is widespread throughout Scottish grasslands and meadows, and is commonly used as a forage crop.
It lacks the creeping stems of its white cousin, and the leaves are more narrowly oval, though with the same trifoliate pattern and ‘new moon’ insignia on the leaflets. Stems are slightly hairy and leaves are slightly hairy on the undersides. Leaf stalks are often longer than the leaves.
The flower heads are a dense globe of 40 – 80 reddish-purple flowers, the whole head being about 20 – 40mm in diameter. Very popular with bumble bees and other pollinators, clover flowers are an important nectar source for beekeepers.
The fruit is one egg-shaped hairless pod which grows within each flower and is largely hidden by the calyx.
Because it contains a phytoestrogen, Red Clover has been used in herbal medicine to counteract the symptoms of the menopause, especially hot-flashes. Experiments have found it to be beneficial. Red Clover flowers are fully edible, mildly flavoured and make a colourful addition to salads.