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Clover, White
(Trifolium repens)


Clover white - illustration  
  • perennial
  • prostrate
  • highly productive
  • requires neutral pH and high P soils
  • can cause bloat.


Trifolium repens L. -
1 flowering plant part;
2 flower;
3 fruit

White clover still forms the basis of most irrigated grass-legume pastures in Queensland and New South Wales. Under rain-fed conditions, it is restricted to the moister valley bottoms of cooler areas receiving moderate autumn and spring rainfall and to tropical tablelands.

While they are naturally perennial, white clover plants are often shortlived in the subtropics; their persistence depending upon good conditions for natural seedling regeneration each year.

This prostrate legume spreads by creeping stolons which root freely in moist soil. It is most productive in spring, when clover dominance (with its attendant bloat risk) often occurs. It is not drought-tolerant, and rarely flourishes in subtropical areas receiving less than 900 mm of annual rainfall. It is frost-tolerant but shade-sensitive.

White clover grows best on free-draining loams, silt loams and clay loams, but will thrive on poorer soils if fertilised. It is demanding in both its rhizobial and its nutrient requirements.

White clover is normally autumn sown at 1-2 kg per ha. Regeneration of clover in kikuyu or paspalum pastures is favoured by removing the top growth in late summer, and by appropriate annual dressings of superphosphate.

There are many old and new varieties available, but those recommended for southern Queensland are Haifa, Ladino, El Lucero and Kopu.

Haifa has been the most popular white clover for the subtropics because of its good heat tolerance, persistence and seeding ability. It is a highly productive large-leafed type, and is more stoloniferous than Ladino, producing a denser sward.

Ladino is an old variety, also productive and large-leafed, with good vigour and summer production. Seed is competitively priced. El Lucero is a new variety with good tolerance to heat and drought. Kopu is described as a more persistent Ladino type. It was bred for resistance to stem nematodes and for summer productivity.

The wider range of white clovers for NSW, including Tahora, Grasslands Huia and Irrigation, are detailed in Better Pastures in Temperate Climates.

Creator: Ian Partridge
Date created: 08 April 1998  Revised: 15 January 2003

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