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 distance. 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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