Red Clover: Trifolium Pratense, Trifolium Repens (white clover), Trifolium Hybridium
Also known as: clover, trefoil, bee-bread, cloeforwort, meadow clover, cowgrass, peavine clover, purple clover.
Parts Used: blossoms, leaves, seeds, root
Meridians/Organs affected: blood, heart, liver, lungs, skin, urinary, digestive, glandular
Properties: anti-tumor, expectorant, alterative, bitter, diuretic, cholagogue, anti-rheumatic, estrogenic, depurant, mild stimulant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic
Red Clover is a member of the Leguminosae (Pea) family along with alfalfa which it is often mistaken for. It is a sprawling perennial (weak stemmed) with 3 oblong leaflets often marked with a chevron. It has pinkish purple flowers that are globe shaped and appear in late spring and bloom throughout the summer. It is best collected between May and August from 9 am to 3 pm when it is at its medicinal peak. It can be found in meadows, grasslands, roadsides, cultivated fields, and anywhere the earth has been disturbed. It is mainly cultivated for livestock or as a soil enriching ground cover (it fixes nitrogen in the soil) rather than for its medicinal uses, which are many. It is an important food for a lot of wildlife (from birds to bears, etc) and bees love it. There are over 200 species of clover found worldwide. It also is the state flower of Vermont.
Clover has been considered not just a valuable herb both medicinally and culinarily by many cultures but it also has been considered a sacred herb and used in religious ceremonies throughout the ages. St. Patrick was said to have used clover to explain the idea of the Trinity to Irish pagans (and hence the shamrock was born). It was said to protect one against the forces of evil. The Druids used it often and even Sir Walter Scott wrote about it saying that it would hinder witches will if used properly. The Latin term 'clava' means club, believed to be for the knotted club of the legendary Hercules and it has been found on playing cards since the 14th century. In Rome the seeds were soaked in wine and used as an antidote for scorpion and snake bites. It was a popular plant in times of famine due to its high protein content. Native Americans would dip the leaves in salt water to reduce indigestion (too much consumption of the raw plant causes bloating). The Irish would dry the flowers and grind them into flour for bread. The flowers themselves have been used for tea, soup, salads and stews and the seeds have been sprouted and consumed much like alfalfa sprouts. 'Living in clover' was an expression one used to describe living in abundance. It is best consumed as a food earlier in the season rather than later.
Clover should be harvested in the early summer and dried in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Make sure it is COMPLETELY dry before bottling as it is prone to mold.
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