Sulphur clover Trifolium ochroleucon

Status
Best Time to See
Colour
Habitat Grassland

“The sunshine slants  To play with,  Our wee, gold-dusty flower, the yellow clover”  - Katharine Lee Bates, ‘Yellow Clover’   

Description

Unmistakeably a clover, in bright sun the flowers of the sulphur clover do appear as a sulphurous yellow. They are, however, a pale creamy yellow in colour.

How to spot it

As the name suggests, this clump-forming perennial is characterised by its showy, upright heads of pale yellow flowers. As the seeds ripen, the yellow flowers fade to brownish orange. The grey-green trifoliate leaves form a spreading rosette at the bases of the stems. 

Where it grows

On chalky boulder-clays or, more rarely, chalk, in grassland, meadows and on road verges, trackways and wood-borders.

Best time to see

In flower in June and July.

How's it doing?

Sulphur clover is now rare in its old meadow habitats as large areas have been converted to arable. Even in the grasslands that remain there have been marked declines due to eutrophication, lack of grass cutting and encroachment of scrub. It has also lost many of its old roadside sites due to road development schemes.

3 things you might not know

  • Prior to the seventeenth century the name ‘claver’ was more generally used than ‘clover’. It survives in many place-names, such as Clavering and Claverton.
  • Sulphur clover is quite popularly cultivated as a garden plant.
  • Clovers are a favourite with long-tongued bees, who are able to reach the nectar in the flowers.