Fabaceae / Pea
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Cultivated as fodder and as a cover crop to be plowed under this clover has spread far and wide. Young, tinder leaves can be eaten fresh or cooked and the flowers can be brewed for tea. It is also a rich source of nectar for bees. So sweet, in fact, that it was once called 'honeysuckle' because the flower head could be sucked as a sweet. This was before refined sugar was available so you may not find it very sweet by modern standards.
Lore: Clover has been used as a charm and healing herb in Europe since pre-history. It came to America so early on that eastern Native American tribes developed traditional uses for it before Europeans could effect genocide on them. The Cherokee people used the tea for fevers, kidney problems and vaginal discharges. In Europe the occasional 'four leaf clover' was thought a powerful charm and is considered 'lucky' even to this day. While countless healing properties have been attributed to Clover, most could be explained by the tannin content. In the 1800s it was suggested, apparently by a single Newspaper article, that an extract had cured cancer.
Medical Uses: A tea from the flower has long been considered an
antispasmodic and mild sedative and has been used for various lung and throat problem such as sore throats, coughs and
asthma. The flowers were once smoked as an asthma treatment. Externally it is used as a salve for burns and sores.
There seems to be no scientific evidence to support medical uses of Clover, but, being edible it probably can't hurt unless
it is used instead of more effective treatments.
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves