Although clover is technically a weed, it also has various agricultural, health, and lawn and garden benefits. In honor of Roanoke’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebration this weekend, we’d like to talk a bit about how you can use clover in your daily life (yes, even the three-leafed ones).
Clovers are a type of forage legume found in temperate climates throughout the world, and especially in the northern hemisphere. Common varieties of clover include red clover, white clover, crimson clover, and arrowhead clover. Throughout history, all kinds of clovers have been utilized for their agricultural benefits. Clovers, particularly the shamrock clover, are traditionally associated with Ireland and Saint Patrick’s Day festivities across the world. Four-leaf clovers, which are much rarer than the common three-leaf clover, are considered good luck when found.
Clover as a Cover Crop
Clovers, particularly crimson clovers, are often used as a cover crop in lawns and gardens. As a cover crop, clover is grown in combination with ryegrass or other winter legumes to form a protective sheathe for delicate soil. Clover makes a superb cover crop because it has a high nitrogen content and deep roots, which help with erosion control and soil’s moisture holding capacity. Clover also suppresses more aggressive varieties of weeds and attracts beneficial predator insects that kill off pests. For these reasons, many gardeners have chosen to incorporate clover into their gardening plan.
Clover and Ecosystems
In the wild, clovers provide food for a variety of different birds, insects, and animals like deer and rabbits. Additionally, clover furnishes pollen and nectar for honeybees. Crimson clover, white clover, and red clover are known for their nitrogen fixation capabilities. Clovers obtain nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it onto nodules in their roots, through which they then slowly release the nitrogen into the soil, acting as a kind of fertilizer. Thus, clovers are thought to promote stronger soil.
Clover and Health
Clovers are also thought to possess a number of health benefits when ingested. Throughout history, clovers have been used as blood purifiers, anti-asthmatics, immunity boosters, diuretics, treatments for eczema and psoriasis, and hormone balancers. Teas, herbal medicines, and lotions are often made with clover as a palliative ingredient.
Four Leaf Clovers
Four leaf clovers are a rare variation of the common three leaf clover. Traditionally, four leaf clovers are supposed to bring good luck to whoever manages to find one. Each leaf is thought to symbolize something different: the first leaf represents faith, the second represents hope, the third represents love, and the fourth represents luck. Anyone that can find a clover with all four leaves is therefore blessed with faith, hope, love, and luck!