Trifolium pratense - L.
Red Clover
Other Common Names: red clover
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Trifolium pratense L. (TSN 26313)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.140855
Element Code: PDFAB401Z0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Pea Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Fabales Fabaceae Trifolium
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Trifolium pratense
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (17Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNA), Alaska (SNA), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNA), Hawaii (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Labrador (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA), Yukon Territory (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AKexotic, ALexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GAexotic, HIexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, LBexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NFexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic, YTexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
Economic Attributes
Economically Important Genus: Y
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Low/Insignificant
Rounded I-Rank: Low
I-Rank Reasons Summary: This species ocurs in every state in a variety of environments and is planted for forage (livestock and bees) thus many occurrences are probably on private lands. It is a nitrogen fixer but not considered to cause major alterations since it typically occurs in fields, roadsides, disturbed areas, prairies, open forest, forest edges, paths, gardens, and lawns. In crowded areas the species will stand upright competing for sun otherwise it sprawls on the ground, but can tolerate shade and wet soil. Said to be short-lived with slow initial growth unless there is ample moisture. Seed can persist and it has a thick, deep taproot. No mention of long-term problems with this species and it does not appear to be persistent so control and management would appear to be relatively easy.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Insignificant
I-Rank Review Date: 27Jul2005
Evaluator: Killeffer, T.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Europe (Weakley, 2005).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
Provide feedback on the information presented in this assessment

Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Fields, roadsides, disturbed areas (Weakley, 2005).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Prairies (Robertson, 2004; Palmer, 2001).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Nitrogen fixer (FCPS, No Date) but appears to primarily be doing it in already disturbed places or areas that already have nitrogen fixers.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: In crowded areas the species will stand upright competing for sun otherwise it sprawls on the ground (Schneider, 2005).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Its upright nature when competing for sun and its sprawling nature otherwise would seem to indicate that it would inhibit some native species but there are no indications that it competes heavily or that the typical places it grows has many native species.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No reports found.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: For KY it is noted as typically spreading into and remaining in disturbed areas and not readily invading natural areas (KY List, 2000). Fields, roadsides, disturbed areas (Weakley, 2005). Prairies (Robertson, 2004; Palmer, 2001). Fields, open forest, forest edges, paths, gardens, and lawns (FCPS, No Date). "Found from city lots to farm fields to mountain meadows" (Schneider, 2005).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Occurs in every state (Kartesz, 1999). Reported to be widespread in northern Wisconsin (Falck, et. al., 2002).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Unknown
Comments: New Jersey views it in the category of "strongly invasive and widespread" (Ling, 2003).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: Assumed it occurs in most units since it occurs in every state and a wide range of habitats.

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Low significance
Comments: Fields, roadsides, disturbed areas (Weakley, 2005). Prairies (Robertson, 2004; Palmer, 2001). Fields, open forest, forest edges, paths, gardens, and lawns (FCPS, No Date). "Found from city lots to farm fields to mountain meadows" (Schneider, 2005).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Low significance
Comments: Very common in U.S. as it is cultivated as fodder and planted as a cover crop (Wildflowers of the SE U.S., 2002). Occurs in every state (Kartesz, 1999). Common along roadsides in Vermont; naturalized (Office of the Secretary of State, 1993-1994).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Insignificant
Comments: Occupies entire area of interest - U.S.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Numerous species use it for a food source but deer, wild turkeys, red foxes, eastern cottantails, and woodchucks which all may carry it a distance (FCPS, No date). Planted for honey production and as forage. Available for purchase online.

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance
Comments: According to Kartesz (1999), this species occurs throught the U.S. The county distribution links on the USDA Plants Database (2005), show that some states have counties where it does not occur but would seem likely to occur. These gaps are most likely from under collection. Disturbed areas occur all the time and new plantings for forage most likely occur.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Habitat is tyically a disturbed location but sometimes it does occur in prairies/meadows. Prairies (Robertson, 2004; Palmer, 2001). Fields, open forest, forest edges, paths, gardens, and lawns (FCPS, No Date). "Found from city lots to farm fields to mountain meadows" (Schneider, 2005).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: Invades meadows in southern Ontario (Urban Forest Associates, 2002). In a wide variety of environments in the boreal forests of Canada: "fields, meadows, roadsides, riverbanks, vacant lots, open forests, forest margins and field borders" (Runesson, 2005).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Said to be short-lived (Mersereau, et. al., 2003). Initial slow growth; seed can persist; thick deep taproot; tolerates wet soil and shade (Duiker, S. and W. Curran, No Date). In Colorado said to grow quickly given ample moisture (Schneider, 2005).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Insignificant

17. General Management Difficulty:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Species is not a persistant one.

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Insignificant
Comments: Control, if needed, would seem to be relatively easy since it is not persistant.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Insignificant
Comments: Assuming impacts to be minimal given the typical habitats where found, the short life span, and non-aggressive traits.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Many of these populations may be on private lands where it is planted for forage but other sites would be easily accessible.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Duiker, S.W. and W.S. Curran. 2005. Cover Crops. Crop & Soil Management 2005-2006. Agronomy Guide 2005-2206. Crop Management Extension Group (CMEG). College of Agricultural Sciences. Penn State. (Accessed 2005).

  • Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). No date. Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).

  • Falck, M. and S. Garske. 2002. Invasive Non-native Plant Management During 2001. Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission. Biological Services Division. Administrative Report 02-08. Odanah, WI 54861.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council. 2000. Kentucky exotic pest plant council invasive exotic plant list. Available: (Accessed 2004.)

  • Ling, H. 2003. Invasive Plant Species. Native Plant Society of New Jersey. Available: (Accessed 2004).

  • Meades, S.J. & Hay, S.G; Brouillet, L. 2000. Annotated Checklist of Vascular Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial University Botanical Gardens, St John's NF. 237pp.

  • Mersereau, D. and A. DiTommaso. 2003. The Biology of Canadian Weeds, 121, Gallium mollugo L. (abstract only). Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 83: 453-466.

  • Office of the Secretary of State. 1993-1994. Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual, Biennial Session. P. 15. (Accessed 2005)

  • Palmer, M. W. 2001. Plants of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Botany Department, Oklahoma State University. (Accessed 2005)

  • Robertson, K. R. 2004. List of Plant Species at Three Natural Blacksoil Prairie Remnants in Central Illinois. Center for Biodiversity, Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820. (Accessed 2005)

  • Runesson, U. 2005. Herbs and Other Plant Species of the World's Boreal Forests. Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment Lakehead University. Thunder Bay, Ontario, CA. Last modified June 17, 2005. (Accessed 2005)

  • Schneider, A., and B. Schneider. 2005. Southwest Colorado Wildflowers, Ferns, and Trees. Last updated July 25, 2005. (Accessed 2005).

  • USDA NRCS. 2005. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 ( National Plant Data Center (, Baton Rouge, LA.

  • Urban Forest Associates, Inc. 2002. Invasive Exotic Species Ranking for Southern Ontario. (Acccessed 2005)

  • Weakley, A. S. 2005. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. Draft as of June 10, 2005. UNC Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill. Available online: Accessed 2005.

  • Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States. 2002. (Accessed in 2005).

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of November 2016.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2017 NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington Virginia 22203, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.