Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Trifolium hybridum
(alsike clover)

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Datasheet

Trifolium hybridum (alsike clover)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Documented Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Trifolium hybridum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • alsike clover
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • T. hybridum is a short lived perennial which favours cool moist conditions. It is found on grasslands and mountainsides throughout the cool temperate regions of the world. Originating in mainland Europe and sou...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering stem. Vääna Landscape Reserve, nr Tallinn, Estonia. June, 2013.
TitleFlower
CaptionTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering stem. Vääna Landscape Reserve, nr Tallinn, Estonia. June, 2013.
Copyright©Ivar Leidus-2013/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering stem. Vääna Landscape Reserve, nr Tallinn, Estonia. June, 2013.
FlowerTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering stem. Vääna Landscape Reserve, nr Tallinn, Estonia. June, 2013.©Ivar Leidus-2013/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering habit. Hohenlohe, Germany. July, 2011.
TitleHabit
CaptionTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering habit. Hohenlohe, Germany. July, 2011.
Copyright©BerndH-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering habit. Hohenlohe, Germany. July, 2011.
HabitTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); flowering habit. Hohenlohe, Germany. July, 2011.©BerndH-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close view of flower. Kirchwerder, Hamburg, Germany. August, 2008.
TitleFlower.
CaptionTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close view of flower. Kirchwerder, Hamburg, Germany. August, 2008.
Copyright©Aiwok-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close view of flower. Kirchwerder, Hamburg, Germany. August, 2008.
Flower.Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close view of flower. Kirchwerder, Hamburg, Germany. August, 2008.©Aiwok-2008/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); habit. Bozeman, Montana, USA. June, 2007.
TitleHabit
CaptionTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); habit. Bozeman, Montana, USA. June, 2007.
Copyright©Prof Matt Lavin-2012/Bozeman, Montana, USA - CC BY-SA 2.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); habit. Bozeman, Montana, USA. June, 2007.
HabitTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); habit. Bozeman, Montana, USA. June, 2007.©Prof Matt Lavin-2012/Bozeman, Montana, USA - CC BY-SA 2.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); leaves and stem. Netherlands. October, 2007.
TitleLeaves and stem
CaptionTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); leaves and stem. Netherlands. October, 2007.
Copyright©Jan Bakker-2007/via wikipedia (Rasbak) - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); leaves and stem. Netherlands. October, 2007.
Leaves and stemTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); leaves and stem. Netherlands. October, 2007.©Jan Bakker-2007/via wikipedia (Rasbak) - CC BY-SA 3.0
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close-up of leaf. USA.
TitleLeaf
CaptionTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close-up of leaf. USA.
Copyright©Bruce Ackley/The Ohio State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close-up of leaf. USA.
LeafTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); close-up of leaf. USA.©Bruce Ackley/The Ohio State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); seeds, en masse. Czech Republic. March, 2011.
TitleSeeds
CaptionTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); seeds, en masse. Czech Republic. March, 2011.
CopyrightPublic Doman/released by Pavel Šinkyřík
Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); seeds, en masse. Czech Republic. March, 2011.
SeedsTrifolium hybridum (Alsike clover); seeds, en masse. Czech Republic. March, 2011.Public Doman/released by Pavel Šinkyřík

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Trifolium hybridum L.

Preferred Common Name

  • alsike clover

Other Scientific Names

  • Amoria hybrida (L.) C.Presl.
  • Trifolium fistulosum Gilib.
  • Trifolium hybridum f. hybridum
  • Trifolium hybridum subsp. anatolicum (Boiss.) Hossain
  • Trifolium hybridum subsp. elegans (Savi) Asch. & Graebn.
  • Trifolium hybridum subsp. fistulosum (Rouy & Foucaud) Asch. & Graebn
  • Trifolium hybridum subsp. hybridum
  • Trifolium hybridum var. hybridum
  • Trifolium parvulum Beck ex Stapf

International Common Names

  • English: hybrid clover; Swedish clover
  • Spanish: trébol hibrido; trébol híbrido; trébol negro; trébol sueco
  • French: trèfle bâtard; trèfle de suède; trèfle hybride
  • Russian: amoriya gibridnaya; klever gibridnyi; klever rozovyi; klever shvedski
  • Chinese: za zhong che zhou cao; za zhong san ye cao
  • Portuguese: trevo-hibrido

Local Common Names

  • Czechoslovakia (former): jetel zvrhlý
  • Denmark: alsikekløver; alsike-kløver
  • Estonia: roosa ristik
  • Finland: alsikeapila
  • Germany: Bastardklee; Schwedenklee
  • Greece: trifilli to ivridio
  • Iceland: alsíkusmári
  • Italy: trifoglio ibrido
  • Japan: arusaiku kuroba; tachi-oranda-genge
  • Latvia: bastarda abolins
  • Lithuania: rausvasis dobilas
  • Netherlands: alsikeklaver; bastaardklaver; zweedse klaver
  • Norway: alsikeklöver
  • Poland: koniczyna bialorózowa; koniczyna szwedzka
  • Portugal: trevo-híbrido
  • Slovakia: d’atelina hybridná
  • Slovenia: detelja hibridna; hibridna detelja; švedska detelja
  • Sweden: alsikeklöver
  • Ukraine: konyushina gibridnaya

EPPO code

  • TRFHY (Trifolium hybridum)

Summary of Invasiveness

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T. hybridum is a short lived perennial which favours cool moist conditions. It is found on grasslands and mountainsides throughout the cool temperate regions of the world. Originating in mainland Europe and southwest Asia, this species has become naturalized throughout most of Europe, the Americas and Asia, mainly through its cultivation for hay, pasture and fodder. It is also used for soil remediation and improvement. There are reports that this species can be difficult to contain once introduced and readily takes hold along roadsides, in fields and on waste ground, but there is little data to support this. There are reports of it having an impact on the rare species Lesquerella globosa [Physaria globosa] in the USA.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Papilionoideae
  •                                 Genus: Trifolium
  •                                     Species: Trifolium hybridum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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T. hybridum was named by Linnaeus in 1753 and was originally thought to be a hybrid of T. pratense (red clover) and T. repens (white clover). It is, however, a separate species. The common name for T. hybridum is alsike clover, named after the town in Sweden where Linneaus discovered it. The genus Trifolium comprises over 248 leguminous species. It belongs to the family Fabaceae which is the third largest plant family, with 630 genera and over 18,000 species. This family consists of a wide range of economically important plants which include trees, shrubs and plants which produce flowers, ‘fruit’ (or pods) and compound leaves.

There are a number of different cultivars of T. hybridum; diploids Aurora, Dawn and Ermo Øtofte and tetraploids Frida and Tetra for example (Frame, 2016). Most of the cultivars used in North America are diploid whereas those present in European are tetraploid (St John and Ogle, 2008).

Three subspecies are recognised by The Plant List (2013)T. hybridum subsp. hybridum, T. hybridum subsp. elegans and T. hybridum subsp. anatolicum.

Description

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The following description has been compiled from AgroAtlas (2016), Plant Guide (2016) and Frame (2016).

T. hybridum is a short lived herbaceous perennial. It is an upright slender plant which grows to a height of 30-60 cm from a basal crown. It produces a tap root with many lateral branches and has an erect to decumbent growth habit with many hollow branched stems. Plants tend to recline or lodge unless companion plants support them. The leaves are trifoliate and bear no markings. Leaflets 1-3 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, glabrous, obovate and the margins finely sharp-toothed. Alternate compound leaves along stems. Hairless stipules at the base of the peduncles taper to a point. Inflorescences axillary and borne on longer stalks than the leaves. The globular racemes bearing 30-50 florets, 6-l0 mm, bracts absent. Calyx short and petals not fused, flowers 5 to 10 mm long, white becoming pink and finally brown and reflexed in age. Initial growth is vigorous and flowers appear in mid-summer, usually lasting from June-September. The flowers are whitish or pale pink, becoming darker with age. Dense heads of tiny flowers are produced, which contain 30-50 florets per head. 2-4 seeds are produced per flower. Seeds are smooth, heart-shaped, 1 mm in length. They are produced in short, broad pods which are green to greenish-brown in colour but darkening almost to black with age. Plants are non-creeping and have little or no vegetative spread.

Plant Type

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Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated

Distribution

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T. hybridum is thought to have originated from mainland Mediterranean Europe, South West Asia and possibly Northern Africa (Morocco) (USDA-ARS, 2016). Cultivation in the nineteenth century resulted in its naturalization throughout most of the temperate regions of the world, especially in mountainous regions, and its rapid colonization of new regions has obscured its original native range. Current distribution of this plant includes the cool temperate and sub-arctic zones of Europe, the Americas (including the whole of North America with the exception of Nunavut and Texas) and Asia (AgroAtlas, 2016).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ArmeniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
AzerbaijanPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
ChinaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
-GansuPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HebeiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HeilongjiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HenanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-Hong KongFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HubeiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-Nei MengguPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-NingxiaPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-QinghaiFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-ShaanxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-XinjiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
IndiaPresentILDIS, 2005
-Indian PunjabPresentILDIS, 2005
-Uttar PradeshPresentILDIS, 2005
IranPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
IraqPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
JapanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
KazakhstanPresentNativeILDIS, 2005
KyrgyzstanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
TajikistanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
TurkeyPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016

Africa

MoroccoPresentNativeILDIS, 2005
South AfricaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-AlbertaPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016; Plant Guide, 2016Escaped from cultivation. Frequent occurrence.
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016; Plant Guide, 2016Escaped from cultivation. Frequent occurrence.
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016; Plant Guide, 2016Escaped from cultivation. Frequent occurrence.
-OntarioPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016; Plant Guide, 2016Escaped from cultivation. Frequent occurrence.
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016; Plant Guide, 2016Escaped from cultivation. Frequent occurrence.
-QuebecPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016; Plant Guide, 2016Escaped from cultivation. Frequent occurrence.
-SaskatchewanPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016
-Yukon TerritoryPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016
GreenlandPresentIntroducedCanadensys, 2016; DAISIE, 2016
USAPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-IdahoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-IndianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-IowaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-KansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MainePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MarylandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MichiganPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MontanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-NevadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-New YorkPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OhioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-South DakotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-TennesseePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-UtahPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-VermontPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-WisconsinPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-WyomingPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
ChilePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
ColombiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
PeruPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005

Europe

AndorraPresentNativeILDIS, 2005
AustriaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
BelarusPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
BelgiumPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
BulgariaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
Czech RepublicPresentNativeILDIS, 2005
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
DenmarkPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
EstoniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
FinlandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
FrancePresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
GermanyPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
GreecePresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
HungaryPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
IcelandPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2016
IrelandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
ItalyPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
LatviaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
LiechtensteinPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
LithuaniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
LuxembourgPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
MoldovaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
NorwayPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
PolandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
RomaniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
Russian FederationPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
SpainPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
SwedenPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; DAISIE, 2016
SwitzerlandPresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
UKPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora, 2016
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
UkrainePresentNativeILDIS, 2005
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentNativeILDIS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
New ZealandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2005

History of Introduction and Spread

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T. hybridum has been grown extensively in Europe since the early 1800’s and was introduced to North America around 1840 (St John and Ogle, 2008). It is thought to have arrived in the USA with earlier settlers from Europe, who introduced a number of clover species (Taylor, 1990).

T. hybridum was recorded from the wild in the UK in 1762 and was later mapped as ‘all records’ in the 1962 Atlas of British and Irish flora (BRC, 2016). Records suggest that T. hybridum was actively cultivated during the mid-nineteenth century (Clark, 1913), resulting in its spread from southern Europe and southwest Asia to many other areas: Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and South America, as well as most of Europe.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
UK   Yes BRC (Biological Records Centre) (2016) Recorded from the wild by 1762
USA Europe ~1840 Yes St and John Ogle (2008) Accidental introduction, arrived in the US with early settlers from Europe

Risk of Introduction

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T. hybridum has been intentionally introduced into many countries for animal fodder or soil enrichment. It is currently sold as seed and is readily available to buy commercially, often as a constituent of grass seed. 

Habitat

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T. hybridum favours cool moist conditions and acidic soils and its growth and spread are usually determined by these factors. In China it has been reported in forest margins, grasslands and along roadsides (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

T. hybridum is naturally diploid and has a chromosome number of 2n=2x=l6 but tetraploid forms also exist with 2n=4x=32 chromosomes and are reportedly as fertile as the original diploids (Frame, 2016). Most of the cultivars used in North America are diploid whereas those present in European are tetraploid (St John and Ogle, 2008).

Reproductive Biology

T. hybridum is self-incompatible and is pollinated by honey bees and occasionally bumblebees (Frame, 2016). Cross-fertilization between different plants must take place. It produces large quantities of seed which is its main method of survival. These seeds are able to remain viable for up to six years in favourable conditions. This plant does not spread and cannot be propagated from cuttings

Physiology and Phenology

Initial growth from seed is vigorous and as such T. hybridum is able to outcompete many of its rivals. Flowers appear in mid-summer, usually lasting from June-September. Seed ripen between June-October. Subsequent growth is slow and diminishes after one to two years. Vigorous plants or grasses may overtake this species in favourable conditions and weeds can be detrimental to stand establishment. Plants are non-creeping and have little or no vegetative spread.

Associations

Nitrogen fixing in the root nodules of T. hybridum occurs through the activity of strains of Rhizombium leguminosarum bv. trifolii (Frame, 2016).

Environmental Requirements

T. hybridum favours cool moist conditions and acidic soils, and its growth and spread are usually determined by these factors. It is able to survive cold temperatures and frosts, but is not tolerant of shade or drought. T. hybridum is able to grow in soils and environments which are unsuitable for some closely related species. It can be cultivated in soils of varying pH and favours acidic soils which gives it an advantage over other species. It prefers moist conditions, with plenty of rainfall and will grow in waterlogged or wet soil, even withstanding spring flooding of up to six weeks (St John and Ogle, 2008). Once established this species is resilient and can tolerate trampling with little negative impact.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Preferred < 860mm precipitation annually
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
60 40

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alfalfa mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Apion fulvipes Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Apion seniculus Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Apion virens Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Bean yellow mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Clover yellow vein virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Cochliobolus sativus Pathogen Roots CABI, 2016
Colias eurytheme Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Colias philodice Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Cucumber mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Cymadothea trifolii Pathogen Leaves Frame, 2016
Didymella pinodella Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Ditylenchus destructor Herbivore Roots CABI, 2016
Empoasca fabae Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Erysiphe trifolii Pathogen Leaves Frame, 2016
Halotydeus destructor Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Hypera postica Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Peridroma saucia Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Potato witches' broom phytoplasma Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Pratylenchus penetrans Herbivore Roots CABI, 2016
Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Pseudopeziza trifolii Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Red clover vein mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Sclerotinia sclerotiorum Pathogen Stems CABI, 2016
Sclerotinia trifoliorum Pathogen Leaves Frame, 2016
Sitona hispidulus Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Sitona humeralis Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Sitona lepidus Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Sitona lineatus Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Soybean dwarf virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Spodoptera eridania Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016
Stemphylium sarciniforme Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Subterranean clover stunt virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Turnip mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
White clover mosaic virus Pathogen Leaves CABI, 2016
Xestia c-nigrum Herbivore Leaves CABI, 2016

Notes on Natural Enemies

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T. hybridum is susceptible to a large number of pests and diseases. The following is taken from CABI (2016) and Frame (2016).

It is susceptible to the following diseases; Erysiphe trifolii (powdery mildew), Cymadothea trifolii (sooty blotch), Phoma trifolii [P. pinodella] (spring black stem), Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris (yellow disease phytoplasmas), Fusarium spp. (root rot), Potato witches' broom phytoplasma (yellows-type disease), Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (bacterial canker or blast), Pseudopeziza trifolii (white sweet clover leaf spot), Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (cottony soft rot), S. trifoliorum (crown and stem rot), Stemphylium sarciniforme (red clover leaf spot), species of Uromyces (rust) and Cochliobolus sativus (root and foot rot). T. hybridum is also susceptible to a number of viruses including bean yellow mosaic virus (BYMV), clover yellow vein virus (CYVV), white clover mosaic virus (WCMV), red clover vein mosaic virus (RCVMV), alfalfa mosaic virus, cucumber mosaic virus, soybean dwarf virus (SbDV), turnip mosaic virus and subterranean clover stunt virus.

Insect pests include the caterpillars of the butterflies Colias philodice and C. eurytheme, Sitona lepidus (clover root weevil), S. hispidulus (clover weevil), S. humeralis, S. lineatus (pea leaf weevil), Apion fulvipes (white clover seed weevil), A. seniculus, A. virens, Halotydeus destructor (redlegged earth mite), Hypera postica (lucerne weevil), Peridroma saucia (pearly underwing moth), Spodoptera eridania (southern armyworm), Xestia c-nigrum (spotted cutworm), Ditylenchus destructor (potato tuber nematode), Empoasca fabae (potato leafhopper) and Pratylenchus penetrans (northern root lesion nematode).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Tiny seeds originating from the flower heads of T. hybridum are produced in abundance and are spread via the wind.

Vector Transmission

Seeds of T. hybridum may be dispersed to new locations by insects, animals and birds.

Intentional Introduction

The commercial sale of seed of T. hybridum has enabled this species to become naturalized in many countries. The seed is often a constituent of grass seed which is sold primarily as a fodder crop or for hay production. T. hybridum is also sown to prevent soil erosion and to improve soil.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionUsed for hay, fodder and green manure Yes
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscapes cultivation Yes Minnesota Wildflowers, 2015
ForageCultivated as a forage crop Yes BRC, Biological Records Centre; Clark and Malte, 1913; Minnesota Wildflowers, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2016
Landscape improvementPlanted to stablise eroded land and increase nitrogen of soils Yes Yes NatureServe, 2016
Seed trade Yes Yes Clark and Malte, 1913; Minnesota Wildflowers, 2015; Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Livestock Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes
Wind Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Impact: Economic

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T. hybridum is a host for a large number of pests and diseases. This can have a negative impact on agriculture as it can act as a source for outbreaks causing a decrease in yields and an increase in the use of pesticides (CABI, 2016).

However, T. hybridum can also reduce the need to use fertiliser, due to its ability to fix nitrogen and can be grown as a cover crop in rotation with cereals or grain.

Impact: Environmental

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T. hybridum tends to establish in areas which are not suitable for other plants and has been described as weedy in its nature. At a small number of sites in the USA there are reports of T. hybridum having a negative impact on the rare species Lesquerella globosa [Physaria globosa] (Lesquereux's mustard), which is considered a G2 (Imperiled) organism (NatureServe, 2015) and a Candidate species by the US-FWS (2010). In the USA, T. hybridum is best adapted to the New England climate (USDA-NRCS, 2002) and can cause problems in cranberry (Vaccinium spp.) bogs, where it grows taller than some cranberries (NatureServe, 2016). It is possible for T. hybridum to become weedy in some regions with the potential to displace native vegetation (St. John and Ogle, 2008). Reports suggest that T. hybridum can dominate a stand for one or two years before decreasing rapidly (Hannaway, 2004).

T. hybridum can however have a positive impact on the environment. It is frequently planted to improve soils and fix nitrogen and is used to stabilise disturbed and eroding land which includes roadsides and mine spoils (Hannaway, 2004). It is eaten by animals and birds and the pollen is used by honeybees. Although it is widely cultivated to produce food for grazing animals, T. hybridum can cause bloat in cattle and has been implicated in causing ‘alsike clover poisoning’ in horses and photosensitization of animals grazing on T. hybridum. Ripe seeds contained in hay which is cut late can also cause slobbering in horses.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Physaria globosa (Short's bladderpod)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCompetitionNatureServe, 2016

Impact: Social

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T. hybridum has a positive impact on farming. It improves the quality and nutrient content of animal fodder and forage and helps to increase yields. It also plays a role in honey production and supporting livelihoods. Its ability to fix nitrogen allows farmers to use less fertilizer on their land (Taylor, 1990).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Fast growing
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Poisoning
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Economic Value

T. hybridum has some economic value as it is used in farming for the production of fodder and hay; as a result the seeds are sold commercially. It is also valued in the production of honey.

Social Benefit

The leaves and flowers of T. hybridum can be eaten raw or cooked. The can also be used to make a tea or ground to make flour (PFAF, 2015). A cold infusion of T. hybridum can be used in traditional medicine to increase milk flow of breastfeeding mothers (PFAF, 2015).

Environmental Services

Like many other members of the family Fabaceae, T. hybridum has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and make it available in the soil for other plants, reducing the need to apply fertilisers. It is also used to stabilise land preventing erosion.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Host of pest
  • Revegetation
  • Soil improvement

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora

Ornamental

  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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T. hybridum is similar in appearance to a number of other Trifolium species such as T. repens and T. pratense. T. repens is smaller and has a light chevron pattern on the upper surface of its leaflets, which may be notched at the tips. The stems are creeping, not ascending and they root at the nodes. Flowers and leaves are borne on separate stalks. The flower heads are whiter in colour.

T. pratense is taller than T. hybridum and has a distinctive chevron pattern on the upper surface of the leaflets. T. pratense produces flowers that are larger and more rosy-purplish. Stems are hairy and individual flowers are stalkless (Minnesota Seasons, 2016; Minnesota Wildflowers 2016).

Prevention and Control

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Control

Mechanical Control

Small stands of T. hybridum may be controlled by hand pulling (Alaska Plant Materials Centre, 2014).

Chemical Control

It has been reported that several herbicides can be used to treat T. hybridum however, exact herbicides have not been named (Alaska Plant Materials Centre, 2014).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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For a species that has been widely introduced into new areas to control erosion and increase nitrogen availability in soils, there is very little information available. Whereas it is mentioned that this species has the potential to be invasive, the full impacts of T. hybridum have not been studied. In addition to this, there is only a small amount of literature available with regards to control of T. hybridum.

References

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AgroAtlas, 2008. Trifolium hybridum L. - Alsike. Interactive Agricultural Ecological Atlas of Russia and Neighbouring Countries. Economic Plants and their Diseases, Pests and Weeds., Russia. http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/content/related/Trifolium_hybridum/

Alaska Plant Materials Centre, 2014. Field guide, terrestrial weed identification, 2nd Edition. Alaska, USA: Alaska Plant Materials Centre.

BRC (Biological Records Centre), 2016. The online atlas of the British and Irish flora website. http://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/

CABI, 2016. Plantwise Knowledge Bank. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. http://www.plantwise.org/KnowledgeBank/Home.aspx

Canadensys, 2016. VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/search

Clark H; Malte MO, 1913. Fodder and pasture plants. Canada Department of Agriculture, 142 pp. http://chestofbooks.com/flora-plants/weeds/Fodder-Pasture-Plants/index.html#ixzz3wectnuhy

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016. Australia's Virtual Herbarium., Australia: Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. http://avh.ala.org.au

DAISIE, 2016. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. European Invasive Alien Species Gateway. www.europe-aliens.org/default.do

EDDMapS, 2013. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. USA: The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. http://www.eddmaps.org/

Fish and Wildlife Service) US-FWS(US, 2010. Region 4 candidate species: 2010 candidate notice of review., USA: US Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.fws.gov/southeast/candidateconservation/PDF/CCA_Region4CandidateList.pdf

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Frame J, 2016. Grassland species profile database. Trifolium hybridum., USA. http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Gbase/data/pf000348.htm

Hannaway D; Larson C, 2004. Legume species fact sheet, Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum L.). Forage Information System. Oregon, USA: Oregon State University. http://forages.oregonstate.edu/main.cfm?Pageid=330&specid=39

ILDIS, 2005. International Legume Database and Information Service: World Database of Legumes (version 10). Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

Minnesota Seasons, 2015. Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum). Minnesota, USA: Nature Tourism in Minnesota. http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Plants/alsike_clover.html

Minnesota Wildflowers, 2015. Trifolium hybridum (Alsike clover)., USA. https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/alsike-clover

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2015. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

NatureServe, 2016. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life. Version 7. Arlington, Virginia, USA: NatureServe. http://explorer.natureserve.org/index.htm

Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora, 2016. Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora., UK: Botanical Society of the British Isles; Biological Records Centre; Joint Nature Conservation Committee; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

PFAF, 2015. Plants For A Future. http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx

Plant Guide, 2016. Alsike clover., USA. http://www.plantguide.org/alsike-clover.html

St John L; Ogle D, 2008. Plant guide, Alsike clover, Trifolium hybridum L., USA: USDA-NRCS. http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_trhy.pdf

Taylor NL, 1990. The true clovers. In: Advances in new crops. Proceedings of the first national symposium 'New crops: research, development, economics', Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, 23-26 October 1988 [ed. by Janick, J.\Simon, J. E.]. Portland, Oregon, USA: Timber Press, 177-182.

The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://www.theplantlist.org

USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). National Plant Germplasm System. Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2016. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Contributors

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17/02/2016 Original texy by:

Lisa Offord, CABI, UK

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