To be in Clover

You may have heard the expression “to be in clover”, it is a happy, prosperous state to be in and refers to the cattle fattening properties of clover.photo of honey bee on clover

To a lot of people clover is a nuisance plant, spoiling the look of their lawn, which it does if you like your lawns uniformly green and devoid of insect life. It is actually grown as a crop, providing excellent fodder for livestock. It gives us an example of farmers and bee keepers living in harmony, the clover needs pollination from bees and the bees need the clover to make their honey.photo of clover

As clover is a member of the legume family, which also includes peas and beans, it is an excellent nitrogen fixer for soil. Such plants obtain nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it into the soil benefiting other plants as well as themselves and meaning the farmer doesn’t have to buy expensive nitrogen fertilizers. Clover also provides more protein than grass, hence the cattle-fattening properties. A word of warning though, it seems that clover forms an emulsion like substance in the cow’s rumen which can prevent her from belching accumulated gas. Farmers need to ensure that their clover-fed cattle get enough fibre to prevent this problem or their cows could explode!photo of bumble bee on clover

So now you are wondering if clover is edible for humans. Apparently it is, though with the same caveat as for cattle – beware bloating! I have picked out some recipes for the industrious: red clover wine here, white clover jelly here, pink clover jelly (with bonus cat photos) here, and from the 1950s a lucky clover cake here.

Back to the wildlife, clover is a very important source of food for our beloved pollinators, the bumble bee and the honey bee, as well as various butterfly and moth species. Deer like to munch on it and it seems that in the US wild turkeys are fond of eating clover.photo of clover

The white clover seems most abundant on the lawn of “Ratz Manor”, but there are red and purple varieties. It is also known as Trefoil, due to the three leaves that they sport. Occasionally they can be found with four leaves and it is considered lucky to happen upon such a plant.

I shall leave you with a haiku by Matsuo Basho:

bush-clover flowers —
they sway but do not drop
their beads of dew

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “To be in Clover

  1. Lovely photos – I do love clover – and very interesting info. As to the bloating, didn’t that happen to sheep in the book ‘Far from the Madding crowd’? The farmer Gabriel Oak had to pierce the bellies of the sheep – very carefully! – to release the gas.

  2. I was interested to read this post since I recently had a conversation with a friend whose horses had eaten red clover containing some kind of toxin which caused them to drool. She was told that it could become a serious problem if they continued to eat it so she’s had to move the horses to a neighboring field until she can clear hers out.

  3. Pingback: Perfumer’s Nose: Making Hay | Tambela Natural Perfumes Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s