Friend or foe…


Red Clover with Common Sulfer copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

Known as a friend of the farmer in need of a reliable cover crop, the Red Clover’s (Trifolium pretense) reputation changes when it appears in lawns to that of an uninvited guest. Michigan’s favorite cover crop is the Red Clover. It serves to increase organic matter and replace nitrogen in the soil after corn or small grain crops have exhausted the soil. Cursed as a weed, Red Clover is attacked with varieties of herbicides and digging-out methods by determined home-owners striving for the “perfect” lawn. A weed is any plant that is considered unwanted and like the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another’s treasure”, Red Clover falls into either category depending on one’s green space. I want to make note here that whether green lawn or farmland both of these habitats are man-made and non-native similar to the Red Clover’s official alien status.

The child in me remembers gently pulling a petal out of the round bloom and quickly sucking the bottom end to taste a single drop of sweet nectar. There is an art of carefully pulling out the petal so that you get the whole petal with that tiny sack of nectar at the base; pull too quickly and no nectar. The task was tedious and the reward was tiny, but decadent for the sweet loving child. Interestingly Red Clover is not a favorite of honey bees because of the long path to the nectar; bees aren’t able to easily harvest Red Clover nectar.

Friendly host to the Common Sulphur (Colias philodice) butterfly seen in this image, it is a favorite choice for egg laying as well as nectar dining.

2 thoughts on “Friend or foe…

    • You’re welcome. I am having fun doing this blog, and learning bits too as I do it thanks to readers’ comments which often include questions! Readers are focusing my writing and making it richer with information.

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