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Wild edibles are blossoming. Some are easy to identify right now because of their flowery display. Bees are humming too, gathering sweet nectar.

Red Clovers (Trifolium pratense): sweet purplish pink flowers fill fields and meadows, hang out at the edges of our gardens. Who hasn’t picked a flower and enjoyed the sweet taste? They are not naive to the US and probably came with the early settlers. Today, red clover can be found all over the world. Trifolium pratense is the species most often referred to for edible and medicinal use.

What’s so special about them? Clover and related species are nitrogen fixers which basically means they contribute to soil fertility. How? These plants contain nitrogen fixing bacteria that can pull unusable nitrogen from our air and convert it into usable nitrogen compounds that can be used by the plant. In the video, above, you can see  different species of clover used to help organic farmers rebuild soil with nitrogen fixing plants, not synthetic fertilizers.

nitrogen-fixing bacteria, microorganisms capable of transforming atmospheric nitrogen into fixed nitrogen, inorganic compounds usable by plants. More than 90 percent of all nitrogen fixation is effected by them.”

Clovers, legumes, for example, are in this category. Because of this nitrogen fixing ability, we use them as cover crops.

The NRCS states: Cover crops have the potential to provide multiple benefits in a cropping system. They prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, suppress weeds, improve the availability of soil water, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits. The species of cover crop selected along with its management determine the benefits and returns.”

Your State’s Agricultural Extension Service can help you decide on the right cover crop for your purpose and area.

Today, red clover is blossoming in our meadows and by our roadsides. 

Name: Red Clover: Trifolium pratense

Where Found: Field and roadsides, by trails

Uses:  Salads, flour, tea; I usually toss several into salads by breaking apart the flower into pieces. I find wild salads are more palatable when using foraged foods by cutting leaves and flowers smaller pieces.

Red clover tea is light and palatable and easily mixes with other herbs such as the mints. Red clover flowers can be added to grain dishes. Pick them now while vibrant, always save some for the bees. They can be placed on a tray and dried for future use. These flowers can be added to a summertime solar herb tea too. Today, research into red clovers components is ongoing. For example, iIsoflavones may be helpful for the symptoms of menopause but that research is mixed.

This Mother Earth News article on red clover has a great recipe. While I haven’t made a bread with red clover flour, I have made solar teas and toss these pretty flowers into salads. I  intend to gather flower-heads and seeds, dry and hopefully collect enough to make a flour. We’ve been enjoying acorn flour bread and chestnut flour in our pancakes. All gluten free. Red clover flour would be gluten free as well.

Red clover is an easy flower to get to know when learning about edible plants. This time of year they can be easily found. Remember do not use those by a roadside. There are tars, lead and other pollutants by roadsides.

Do you have a favorite red clover recipe? I’d like to hear from you.

Enjoy. Judith

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