Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

FORKLORE

On Clover

July 18, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

Clover is the general name for members of the pea family having leaves that consist of three (or, if lucky, four) leaflets. Grazing animals enjoy the sweet flavor of red clover (Trifolium pratense), so this low bushy plant is widely grown for fodder. Red clover is closely related to the creeping white clover (Trifolium repens) we find in our lawns.

All clovers add nitrogen to the soil, so farmers can harvest clover for fodder and improve their soil at the same time. Yellow sweet clover, also known as melilot (Melilotus officinalis), is mostly used for soil improvement because it's not suitable for fodder. It contains coumarin, a chemical that has a pleasant smell like almonds and sweet hay but is poisonous in large amounts. (Just try telling a cow to stop eating clover.)

Still, small quantities of melilot flower extract flavor certain candies. In Europe, meat is sometimes marinated with melilot, and the flower extract is used for flavoring some sausages and beers. In Switzerland, it's added to an herbed cheese called grune kase.

White clover is one of the herbs that go into a sort of ravioli people make in Central Asia to celebrate Navroz, the ancient Iranian spring equinox festival. But some strains of white clover contain coumarin, so you should be sure not to overdo it. In other words, don't make a cow of yourself.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|