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Trifolium pratense, Red Clover - Essex Broad

£0.95

Essex Broad is a UK native variety red clover.

Sow April-August. Sow at 2 grams per sq. m.

A good green manure, it is useful for over-wintering, especially in a mixture with Lolium perenne. Deep rooting, it produces a good bulk. It is a host to 'clover rot' however, so should not be used too frequently. It is also grown with grass mixtures for land reclamation, it has good nitrogen fixing properties.

Red clover is safe and effective herb with a long history of medicinal usage. It is commonly used to treat skin conditions, normally in combination with other purifying herbs such as Arctium lappa and Rumex crispus.

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers.

A short-lived perennial. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -23°c. A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species. It is also a good bee plant, but not so valuable as the white clover, T. repens. It grows well in an apple orchard, the trees will produce tastier fruit that stores better. It should not be grown with camellias or gooseberries because it harbours a mite that can cause fruit drop in the gooseberries and premature budding in the camellias.

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in situ.

If the seed is in short supply it might be better to sow it in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring.

Succeeds in a moist, well-drained circum-neutral soil in full sun. Prefers a medium-heavy loam.

Edible uses:

Leaves and young flowering heads - raw or cooked. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower, and are used in salads, soups etc. On their own they can be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach.The leaves are best cooked. They can be dried, powdered and sprinkled on foods such as boiled rice. 

The seed can be sprouted and used in salads. A crisp texture and more robust flavour than alfalfa (Medicago sativa). The seeds are reported as containing trypsin inhibitors. These can interfere with certain enzymes that help in the digestion of proteins, but are normally destroyed if the seed is sprouted first.

Flowers and seed pods - dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour. The young flowers can also be eaten raw in salads.

Root - cooked.

A delicate sweet herb tea is made from the fresh or dried flowers.

The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc.

http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Trifolium_pratense

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