Bighead Clover

Scientific Name:

Trifolium macrocephalum

Type:

Herbaceous Plant

Habitat:

Sagebrush deserts and pine woods

Range:

Eastern Washington to east-central California, western Nevada and Idaho

Status:

Secure (NatureServe)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

This pretty, low-growing clover has a large flower head made up of two-tone pea flowers. If you look closely at the flowerhead you can see that each individual flower is surrounded by fine hairs, the flower stem is also hairy. The attractive leaves are two tone, they have 7 to 9 leaflets. Bighead clovers usually bloom in April and May in the Truckee Meadows.

Fast Facts:

  • The genus name Trifolium means three (tri), leaves (folium). Most clovers and trefoils (members of the genus Trifolium)  have three leaflets, bighead clovers typically have 7 to 9 leaflets on each leaf.

  • The species name macrocephalum means big (macro) head (cephalum).

  • Like most legumes, bighead clover plants form root nodules that contain Rhizobium bacteria. The bacteria are able to fix nitrogen, i.e. convert nitrogen from the air into a nitrogen compound the plant can use for growth.

  • Here in the Truckee Meadows, bighead clover occurs on the west side of Reno and has been recorded in Huffaker Hills.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Emma Wynn (research, content, and photos)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

May 12, 2021, 6:35:38 PM