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  • Sara Thompson

Benefits of Clover Go Beyond Good Luck

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

White clover
White clover, photographed in England; Photo by user Heron, from Wikimedia Commons

With over 300 species, clover is one of the most common and easily grown plants. Best grown in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, some clover species have been found in South America and parts of Africa. Commonly thought of as a weed, many try to rid their yards and gardens of clover, but recently we have realized there are several benefits clover can offer.

Clover is a member of the Fabaceae family, which includes legumes. Best recognized by its three leaves, some with more leaves have been discovered before. Four-leaf clovers are often sought after as they are believed to bring good luck. To date, the World Record of number of leaves found on a clover is 56. A shamrock is often attributed to clover but can also be other three-leaf plant varieties. Often used as a symbol of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, the word “shamrock” comes from the Irish work seamrog which means “young clover”.

Clover is usually grown to be used for animal feed, with the white and red clover varieties being the most used. Farmers have long known that fields that grew clover had better soil for other crops on subsequence years. Like other legumes, clover is a nitrogen fixer. It takes nitrogen from the air and converts it into a compound essential for the soil health. The use of clover as a rotation crop causes the soil to not need synthetic fertilizer to add nitrogen or ammonia to the soil.

For decades, clover was thought of as a weed and was often removed from yards and gardens. In recent years clover has been making a comeback in yards. It is one of the first plants to become green and thrive in the spring, even in areas experiencing drought. Growing clover attracts bees and other pollinators, helping to pollinate other crops and plants. Being a nitrogen fixer, having clover in your lawn and gardens can help reduce your need for fertilizer and help keep you other plants healthy and thriving.

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