CRIMSON CLOVER (Trifolium incarnatum L.)
Plate 17 ; Seed, Plate 27, Fig. 29.
Other English names: Scarlet Clover, Italian Clover, German Clover.
Botanical description: Crimson Clover is an annual plant with a strong taproot provided with the nodules characteristic of all leguminous plants. From the crown of the root numerous up-right stems develop which reach an average height of one or two feet. They are soft in texture and covered with soft hairs. The leaflets are somewhat similar in shape to those of common Red Clover, but are shorter, broader, covered with short hairs and toothed in their upper parts. The flowers are in a prolonged, spikelike head which has a peculiar bluish green tint before flowering. The head, which is from one to two inches long when fully developed, contains a great number of flowers, the development of which gradually proceeds from the base to the top. The flowers are rich scarlet or crimson and somewhat longer than those of the common Red Clover.
Geographical distribution: Crimson Clover is indigenous to Europe where it occurs in France, Italy, Spain and in the valley of the Danube. In many cases, however, it is doubtful whether the plant is really wild or has only escaped from cultivation. Its cultivation, which for a long time was confined to northern Italy, southern France and the country around the Pyrenees, is now rapidly spreading. The northern limit of the plant, which was approximately northern Italy before its cultivation began, is now extended to southern Sweden. In America it is grown in practically all the eastern states of the Union, especially southward. In Canada it is only grown to a limited extent and is scarcely found except in southern Ontario and British Columbia, except as a cover crop in orchards.
Cultural conditions: Crimson Clover is well adapted to poor soils. This may be partly due to its strong root system, which enables the plants to gather nourishment from a large area. On light, sandy soils, where Red Clover would not thrive, Crimson Clover may yield large crops. This is especially true if the plants are given sufficient lime and water. It thrives best on sandy barns which contain a rich supply of plant food, and on such soils, if the climate is favourable, it will produce a luxuriant growth. On heavy or moist cold clay the return is scanty.