The changing natural world at our doorsteps | Illustration and text by Patterson Clark
June 8, 2010
Is it a weed if it improves your lawn while offering food and entertainment?
By early June, grass yards are dotted with the small blossoms of white clover.
Those who can resist the urge to cultivate a chemically dependent monoculture of turf may want to consider the value of clover.
Introduced from Europe, the somewhat invasive
perennial likes growing in moist clay soils that receive a lot of sun. In your yard the legume can earn its keep by fixing nitrogen in the ground.
Clover is edible. When young and tender, leaves may be added to soups and salads. Protein-rich flower heads can be boiled, stir-fried or steeped for tea.
With a little practice, you can train yourself -- or your kids -- to spot four-leaf clovers: As you stare at clover's three-leaf triangular pattern, any square four-leaf pattern will begin to stand out.
SOURCES: University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program; Purdue University; sciencebase.com