Alsike Clover

Alsike Clover (Trifolium hybridum) takes its name from a parish in the

south of Sweden. From there it is probable that it was introduced into

England. Linnaeus gave it the name of hybridum, imagining it to be a

cross between the red and the white varieties. Botanists do not

generally hold this view. It is known by various names, as Swedish,

White Swedish, Alsace, Hybrid, Perennial Hybrid, Elegant and Pod Clover,

but more commonly in America it is spoken of as alsike.

The plants of this variety are more slender than those of the medium red

variety, although they grow in some instances to a greater height. The

slender stems are much branched. The leaves are numerous and oblong in

shape, the flowers are of a pinkish tint, the heads are globular and are

about three-fourths of an inch in diameter, and the pods, like those in

white clover, contain more than one seed. The roots are in no small

degree fibrous, and yet the slender tap root goes down to a considerable


Alsike clover is a perennial. In favorable situations it will live for

many years. Ordinarily, it grows to the height of 18 to 24 inches, but

in slough lands it sometimes grows to the height of 5 feet. The plants

do not reach their full size until the second year, and in some

instances until a period even later. They grow less rapidly than those

of medium red clover, are several weeks later coming into flower, and

grow much less vigorously in the autumn. Ordinarily, they furnish but

one cutting of hay each year. Because of the more fibrous character of

the root growth, the plants do not heave so readily as those of red

clover. In moist situations they are much given to lodge; hence, the

importance of growing this crop, when grown for hay, along with some

kind of grass that will help to keep the stems erect.

Alsike clover furnishes a large amount of pasture. It is relished, at

least, fairly well. The leaves are slightly bitter, but not enough to

seriously interfere with their palatability. The quality of the hay is

excellent. This arises from its fineness, from the number of the small

branches and leaves on the stems, and from its fragrance when well

cured. While it makes a very suitable hay for horses and cattle, it has

peculiar adaptation for sheep, owing to its fineness.

As a fertilizer it is probably not equal to medium red clover, since the

root growth is not so bulky. Nor does it produce a second cutting

anything like so vigorous as the former. Nevertheless, the roots possess

even stiff soils to such an extent that they not only furnish them with

much plant food, but they also tend to disintegrate them and to render

them more easy to pulverize.

As a honey plant, alsike clover is without a rival among clovers, unless

it be in the small white variety. It is a great favorite with

bee-keepers. Many of them sow it to enable them to furnish pastures for

their bees. The bloom remains for a relatively long period. The honey is

also accessible to the common honey bee, since the branches are numerous

on the stems, and since each branch bears a head, the flower heads are

relatively quite numerous. Since the honey is accessible to the common

bee, pollination in the plants is assured; hence, the failures in the

seed crop are few, and when other conditions are favorable, seed

production is abundant. Because of the many good qualities of this

clover it is deservedly a favorite wherever it can be successfully

grown. When in full bloom, a field of alsike clover is a very beautiful

sight. The flowers are a pale white at first, but gradually they deepen

into a beautiful pink of tinted shades, and their fragrance is fully

equal to their beauty.

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