Vermont State Flower - Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense), native to Europe and Asia, grows wild in meadows, roadsides and open forests. It is distributed across all of Vermont’s counties, with the exception of Caledonia. It grows thickly in dairy farm pastures and along roadsides, adding a pink hue to the sites. Though considered a pest in some regions of the United States, it provides ornamentation to Vermont’s countryside.


One of the few state flowers not native to the U.S., red clover is nevertheless a common site across much of the state of Vermont. Red clover is a perennial plant that grows to form a mat. It produces spikes of pink to purple, pompom-like flowers Commonly grown as a ground cover or cover crop in pastures, red clover fixes nitrogen in the soil.


In October of 1894, the members of Vermont’s House of Representatives decided the state needed a flower to represent it in the floral garland being created at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In typical government fashion, a committee was formed to contemplate the matter. It included one representative from each county in the state. The people of Vermont were divided between trailing arbutus, the daisy, mayflower, posy, red clover and buttercup. When put to a vote, red clover garnered almost four times as many votes as the daisy, which came in second. Red clover was officially made Vermont’s state flower in 1895.


Red clover prefers a full-sun location, although it will survive in partial shade. Consistently moist soil is ideal, although short periods of drought are tolerated. Red clover seed is typically spring-sown and, because it may cause bloat in grazing livestock, is mixed with fall or spring grain crops. If you plan on cultivating red clover in the home landscape, keep in mind that it has a tendency to become invasive.


In Vermont, red clover is used for hay, green cover crops and forage for livestock. Extracts from the plant’s flowers are used in food products, such as jams and jellies, and in holistic remedies as a sedative. In Russia, the flowers are used to prepare asthma remedies, and in China, a floral tea is used as an expectorant. Although the National Cancer Institute has not tested it, many herbalists tout red clover’s anti-cancer properties.



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