Trifolium pratense - Red Cloverphoto by H. Zell

Fast Facts

  • Adopted as the official state flower in 1894.
  • Botanical name: Trifolium pratense.
  • Vermonters campaigned for other favorite flowers like daisies, Arbutus, Posy, Mayflower, & Buttercup.
  • Red Clover is the most widely grown of all Clovers.
  • Red Clover is the most important legume hay crop in all of the northeastern US.
  • Vermont Flower Delivery

English colonists brought Red Clover to northeastern North America, where Vermont residents fell in love with it, and it’s now distributed prevalently all over the US. Inspired by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and its unequaled National Garland of Flowers, Vermonters were determined to have their own official state flower to represent the independent nature of their unique state and its inhabitants. Red Clover beat four others with a resonant 9,575 votes.

Both an integral part of many cultivated hay fields & a universal sight along numerous Montpelier, Vermont roadsides and highways,Red Clover is symbolic of Vermont’s scenic countryside and of its massive farms, like Pomfret, & other cities’ dairy farmlands. Independent and self-reliant as Vermont is, oddly enough, Trifolium pratense is not a native of Vermont. Red Clover is now grown expansively in the northeast and northwest U.S., and even used as a winter annual in the southeastern U.S. Fruit and seeding periods are abundant in spring. Red Clover displays dazzling deep dark red flowers and, obviously, is intolerant to drought/aridity; hence it’s love of the chillier climate in Vermont.

Trifolium pratense - Red CloverPhoto by Zampel

Red Clover grows best on well-drained loamy soils, but it will also grow on soil that is not as well-drained. It’s normally used as a companion crop with forage grasses (smooth brome, meadow brome, orchard grass) to provide a source of nitrogen while also providing high-yielding forage rich in protein. Red Clover shows off lush green foliage that requires heavy moisture, and plants grow from crowns.

The plants have hollow, hairy stems and branches with stem lengths of medium and mammoth types averaging 18 inches and 24 to 30 inches, respectively. Medium types have about four branches per stem; mammoth have six. Each leaf consists of a slender stalk bearing three leaflets. Seed pods are small, short, and contain kidney-shaped seeds that vary in color from yellow to deep violet. As many as 10 million acres of Red Clover were grown in Northern states in the 1940’s! Prominence has waned because it doesn’t fit well into current crop rotations. Plenty of Red Clovers can still be seen rising independently today in the breathtaking fields of Barnet to the edge waters of Lake Champlain.

The cherished Red Clover will always add to the stunning scenery of Vermont’s scenic hills, valleys, mountains and lakes.