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Subterranean clover
(Trifolium subterraneum)


A winter annual. Plants set seed and die in November/December each year. Seeds germinate and recolonise after autumn rain, usually in March-April. Naturally dominant on warmer, drier slopes, and on free draining alluvial flats or in lower rainfall areas. Forms the main pasture legume in many parts of inland Victoria, Australia. Older cultivars have oestrogenic compounds that reduce fertility of grazing animals.

Vegetative identification

  • Leaves are hairy and heart shaped;

  • leaves often have small black spots;

  • plants are small in autumn, growing to 30cm or more in diameter with stems creeping along the ground by late winter.
  • Flowers are whitish, in small clusters, not a round head;

  • on maturity flower stalks form a burr and turn and curl downwards to bury seed;

  • seeds large compared with other clovers, almost spherical, blackish in colour.

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Page last modified on 25 February 2003 and will expire on 1 January 2004