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Mammoth Clover







Mammoth Clover (Trifolium magnum) was long ago named Trifolium medium by Linnaeus. However appropriate the designation may have been at the time, it is not so now, at least under American conditions, as in this country there is no other variety of clover so large, unless sweet clover (Melilotus alba). To apply to it the distinguishing term medium, therefore, is positively misleading, since the smaller variety of red clover commonly grown occupies such middle ground, as the term medium would indicate. Because of this, the author has ventured to designate it Trifolium magnum. It has also been classified, and with no little appropriateness, Trifolium pratense perenne, which has reference to the mildly perennial habit of growth in this plant. In common phrase it is known by such names as Large, Tall, Saplin or Sapling, Giant, Meadow, Perennial Red, Red Perennial Meadow, Pea Vine, Zigzag, Wavy Stemmed, Soiling, and Cow clover or Cow grass. Each of these names has reference to some peculiarity of growth in the plant. For instance, the terms Large, Tall, Saplin and Giant have reference to the size of the plant; and the terms Pea Vine, Zigzag and Wavy Stemmed to the somewhat irregular and trailing habit of growth in the stems, and so of the others. The designation Cow grass is an English term. Mammoth clover is a large variety of red clover; in fact, the largest variety of red clover in America. The plants are strong, stronger than those of the medium red variety, and the stems are much larger. They are softer than those of the medium red, which to some extent may account for the less erect habit of growth which characterizes it. The leaves are usually destitute of the white spot found on those of the other variety. The heads are also probably larger and somewhat more open, but there is no appreciable difference in the size of the seed. The plants, notwithstanding, bear so much resemblance to those of the common red variety that it is not easy to distinguish them unless by the large size of the plants of the former. The roots are larger and stronger than those of the medium red variety, and as a result have more power to gather plant food in the soil. Mammoth clover is biennial under some conditions and under others it is perennial, although it is not usually a long-lived perennial. It has a stronger habit of growth than the medium red, and is, therefore, rather better fitted to thrive under adverse conditions, more especially when it has once obtained a hold upon the soil. It grows chiefly in the first half of the season, and makes but little growth, relatively, in the autumn, or, indeed, any time the same season after the crop has been harvested for hay. In the Northern States it comes into flower about the middle of July, and in those of the South correspondingly earlier. It is relished by all kinds of domestic animals kept upon the farm, but the hay is relatively better adapted to cows and other cattle than to horses and sheep. If cut too late, or much injured in the curing, it is too dusty for horses, and the growth is too coarse to make first-class hay for sheep. It makes excellent soiling food, because of the abundance of the growth and the considerable season during which it may be fed in the green form. It is peculiarly valuable as a fertilizer and as an improver of soils. In addition to the nitrogen which it draws from the air and deposits in the soil, it brings up plant food from the subsoil and stores it in the leaves and stems, so that when fed it can be returned to the land. It also fills the soil with an abundance of roots and rootlets. These render stiff soils more friable, and sandy soils less porous; they increase the power of all soils to hold moisture, and in their decay yield up a supply of plant food already prepared for the crops that are next grown upon the ground. Mammoth clover may also be utilized with advantage in lessening the numbers of certain noxious weeds, and in some instances of eradicating them altogether. This it does in some instances by smothering them, through the rankness of the growth. In other instances it is brought about through the setback which is given to the weeds by first pasturing the crop and then cutting it later for seed.





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