Trifolium pretense, or Red Clover, is a member of the legume family and a cousin to the sweet pea. The small, red and pink flowers bloom up from the famous round leaves, which grow in clusters of three and have long been prized as a symbol of good luck. This perennial plant is native to Europe, Western Asia and northwest Africa. Today, it grows all over the world. In our modern western times, clover is sometimes considered a common weed that needs to be sprayed with poison pesticides in order to maintain a lawn of green. It is truly a shame and a waste when this occurs, for not only is the plant attractive, it serves many useful purposes in both garden and medicine chest, and is delicious besides.
In the garden, clover is an excellent green manure crop. Planting clover in a field a year before planting other garden vegetables is an inexpensive, environmentally sound source of nitrogen. There is no need to supplement with artificial fertilizers, and clover provides the added benefit of its deep rooted plants breaking up compacted subsoil. Clover can also be “under-sown” or planted to surround other fruit and vegetable crops, such as tomatoes, melons or squash. Plant the clover in the early spring, and once the fruits and vegetables have been harvested, the clover may be turned over into the soil, to break down over the winter, blessing you with a fertile garden bed the following spring.
Red clover blossoms may be dried and used in a pleasant tasting tea. It is often used in combination with other herbs to nourish pregnant and breast feeding women, as well as to treat skin conditions, coughs and blood infections. Red Clover gently purifies the blood, helping to eliminate heavy metals and other environmental contaminants, while nourishing the body with its abundance of trace minerals. It is also mildly antispasmodic, which means it can ease nervous excitability, twitching and spasm. It is gentle enough to give to children who have recurring respiratory problems, such as colds, hay fever, asthma, ear infections or congestion.
Below is a recipe for a simple herbal tea, suitable for pregnant women and their families. The tea may be used daily throughout pregnancy and into the postpartum period to promote milk production. The high mineral content makes this an excellent nutritive herbal tea that is beneficial for most individuals.
Nourishment Tea –
from “Naturally Healthy Babies and Children”
1 ounce red raspberry leaves
1 ounce dried nettle
1 ounce dried oatstraw
1/2 ounce dried alfalfa
12 ounce red clover blossoms
1/4-1/2 ounce dried spearmint leaves
1/4 ounce rose hips
1 quart boiling water
Mix all of the herbs and store away from heat and sunlight in a glass jar. Put a handful of the mixture into a tea pot (or vessel that can be covered with a lid), add the boiling water, cover and steep for one hour, for maximum benefit. Tea may be steeped for less time, if the flavor is experienced as too strong after a long steep. Add honey and lemon to taste if desired.
1. Romm, Aviva Jill. “Naturally Healthy Babies and Children.” Celestial Arts. Berkely, 2003.
2. Coleman, Eliot. “The New Organic Grower, 2nd Edition.” Chelsea Green Publishing. White River Junction, 1995.
3. Emery, Carla. “The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 9th Edition.” Sasquatch Books. Seattle, 2003.