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You all must have witnessed beautiful and appealing ornamental Clover plants that are highly famous in common masses of Asia, America and Europe. Apart from being used as a livestock weed or green manure, the three-leaf clover plants also hold religious and cultural values, with each leaf representing faith, hope and love. But do you know that Clover is not the only Perennial plant that belongs to the Oxalis genus? Yes, there are several other clover-like perennial plants that belong to that genus, which will often confuse you.
However, not all clover-like plants can be used as ornamental herbs because some inhibit poisonous characteristics. They require different environmental conditions and lifestyles to grow. Thus, you must have a deep understanding of these plants, so there is no doubt remaining while identifying them. Here we are going to talk about five plants that look like Clover but hold different characteristics. So, let’s begin.
Before learning about the five similar perennial plants, we first need to understand the Clover Plant, its usage and its unique characteristics in detail.
About Clover Plant – How it is different from other similar-looking Perennial Plants
The Clover plant is commonly known as Trefoil, belongs to the Trifolium Genus of Fabaceae family, cultivated majorly in temperate and subtropical parts of South and North America. They are short-lived perennial herbaceous plants known for their unique quality of converting nitrogen from the air (through its nodules in the roots) into a useful form utilized by the plants. Their leaf structure varies from quatrefoil (four-leaf clover, hard to see) to trifoliate, unifoliate, bifoliate, cinquefoil, hexafoil and septfoil.
Basically, nitrogen-fixing is a feature that allows Clover to pass away the necessary nitrogen to veggie plants nearby; this ability of Clover can be a helpful factor for your garden. Clover is also known as Green Manure because it is beneficial for other plants around it. Many people plant this as grass, and the plantation of this herb depends on the person’s usage.
Most Cultivated & Common Species of Clover
There are various species of Clover plants cultivated as Fodder Plants (agricultural food for cattle, horses, rabbits, pigs, etc.). These commonly found species are:
- White or Dutch Clover: Scientifically known as Trifolium repens, White clover is the most cultivated clover, abundant in meadows. They have white or pinkish flowers that later become brown and deflexed as the corolla fades.
- Red Clover: Scientifically known as Trifolium pratense, the Red Clovers are produced in a dense inflorescence. It has dark pink flowers with a characteristic half-crescent paler base in the outer half of the leaf.
Uses of Clover Plants:
Apart from fixing nitrogen for other plants, Clover has various renowned uses, like:
- It is the primary nectar source for honeybees as bumblebees and honeybees pollinate it.
- Suitable for Green Composting, it works as a green manure by fixing plants’ nitrogen and reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
- Seeds from Clover’s blossoms are used to make tea and bread.
- The four-Clover leaf plant is used as a medicinal herb to treat cancer, menstrual cramps, bone diseases, etc.
5 Plants That Look Like Clover
Now is the time to discuss the five plants that look like Clover yet are quite different in various aspects. These plants are known for their unique characteristics and growing environment, which will help you to understand how they differ from Clover.
In this plant guide, We will talk about their distinct characteristics, the growth environment required for them and the use of these plants. So read up to know more:
1. Wood Sorrels Plant
Often marketed as a Shamrock Plant (any plant similar to trifoliate plant), Wood Sorrel (Oxalis spp.) foliage exhibits a massive resemblance to Clover. It also belongs to the Oxalidaceae herbs family, just like a Clover plant. Wood Sorrels are better suited for the indoor environment than the clover species. The leaves of Wood Sorrel are trifoliate and droop after drying.
Wood sorrels is a seasonal plant, which grows by roots, stolons and by seeds. It grows best in spring and falls in a warm environment, but these plants survive all year long. It grows around 15 cm with white/reddish flowers and a pinkish stem that generally appears between May to August. Based on the colour of the flowers, a few species of Wood Sorrels are named Yellow Sorrels and Pink Sorrels.
Seeds of Wood Sorrels are known for their quick germination quality and no inactivity. Wood Sorrel is not a part of the bean family. Its leaves grasp during the night; they open up during the early morning to make plant food by the process of photosynthesis. Wood Sorrels need wet, well-drained and alkaline soil to grow correctly. However, this plant can also thrive in poor nutritionist soil.
It is challenging to do sanitation to wood sorrel plants in pots, especially in conception locations. It is advised not to leave this on the soil because it can continue growing through it. Before growing this weed, you should check the new products of the plants.
The roots and stolons of Wood Sorrels are hard to eliminate when fully developed. The seeds need sunshine to grow, and mulch can help decrease germination. So, it will not allow plants to develop from the roots. When these plants are immature, you can rely on nonselective herbicides.
Some species of Wood Sorrels like Creeping Wood Sorrel and Bermuda-buttercup are harmful and invasive weeds when cultivated outside their native ranges. Wood Sorrels have the unique ability to store reserve energy in their tubers, making them resistant to the majority of weed control techniques.
2. Oxalis Regnellii
Also known as Purple Shamrock or Oxalis Triangularis, Oxalis Regnellii is a trigonal, bulb-type ornamental flowering plant. Its leaves are triangular (arranged in a cluster of three leaves) and dark purple in colour with small clusters of pinkish-white blooms. As this plant’s trifoliate leaves resemble Shamrock, it is also known as False Shamrock.
One of the exciting features of Oxalis Regnellii is that it thrives best on bright indirect light with a little cool temperature. Its leaves close like an umbrella in direct sunlight or at night. They can thrive all day when kept in a sunny place in winters.
It requires well-drained and good potting mix soil to grow correctly. The ideal temperature to grow this plant is 60°F – 70°F / 15°C – 21°C during the day and 55°F – 65°F / 13°C – 18°C at night.
Oxalis Regnellii comes from an Oxalidaceae family: it is the most well-known genus under this family that is considered slightly poisonous if eaten in a large quantity. From all the variety of Oxalis, people prefer Oxalis triangularis as their home plant; it is preferable to cultivate at home than others because others need more attention.
Because they offer many kinds of colours and sizes and are very famous among breeders, Oxalis is a beautiful houseplant. All the garden enthusiasts and growers around the globe mention them as weed, as they are so esteemed.
If you prefer to grow it as an indoor plant, then there is a chance that it will get on the inactive stage during the winter period. So if you still think to thrive indoors, give them the required fertilizer and light; it will help this plant pass through the winters.
A Shamrock plant should never be fed when it is dormant. For its balanced growth, you can dilute the liquid fertilizer by half and add it every two weeks during the growth period. As its leaves contain high oxalic acid content, it can be used in the salad to eat raw and for decoration purposes. But it should not be consumed in large quantities as oxalic acid can cause discomfort when taken in a large amount.
3. Shamrocks Plant
Green Shamrock Plant belongs to the Oxalis family and is known for its triangular leaves that resemble lucky clover. When placed in bright indirect light, the Green Shamrock plant produces small delicate white flowers.
Shamrock plants are different from other plants commonly grown at home, similarly to Clover. These plants grow from tiny nodules, which can be grown within the fresh spring or fall; it depends on the atmosphere of the area where you live. The interesting thing about this plant is that when there is no light, they fold up, but they open up when you put them into the area of light.
Shamrock plants need an inactive period during summer when they begin to close down; this is where the Shamrock plant breeders got confused and thought that the plant was dead, but it was not. As per the height of this plant, this will go around 6 inches.
The colour tone remains different if we talk about the leaves and the delicate flowers that fall throughout the seasons. Leaves are too similar to Clover, and many people believe these leaves bring luck to their lives. Growing Oxalis can also be a good choice during the winter, if you plan to grow Shamrock at home. If we talk about the inactivity of Shamrock plants, then growing them can be easy compared to others; they will need less care. This plant goes inactive during the summertime.
Unlike the other plants, Shamrock needs little care during the inactivity period, like you need to put them in the dark area and give them water regularly as well as maintain fertilizations.
When finally the inactivity of Shamrock is broken after a season, new shoots emerge. After this period is broken, move your shamrock plant to a sunny lighted area, then resume taking ordinary care of your shamrock plant to get attractive flowers and other results.
4. Oxalis Stricta Plant
Commonly known as Yellow Oxalis, Sourgrass or Upright Yellow Wood Sorrel, Oxalis Stricta grows both as Perennial and Annual plant in Woodlands, Meadows. This famous Oxalis Stricta plant is a herbaceous plant that originated from North America and Eurasia. When young, this plant is erect but decumbent later on as branches grow regularly.
Oxalis Stricta is commonly considered a Garden Weed that grows in full sunlight or shade in lawns, gardens and fields. It has wide flowers and leaves, often with purple edges, and tends to grow more upright compared to other wood sorrels.
The stalks of Oxalis Stricta grow into a very sharp edge from the central stem; both angles are about 90 degrees. This plant is tolerant to many environmental conditions and can grow yearly in seasons sometimes but generally requires moist soil and partial shade to grow correctly.
This plant can survive various conditions; you can find it in forests, borders, waste areas and fields. This fragile-looking plant can grow almost 6-15 high, only if not regularly trimming it. They may develop nests emerging from thin yet thorny buried roots.
The yellow flowers of this plant comprise five petals that first bloom in the spring season. Its flowers, leaves and unripe fruits are edible and have a sour taste (lemony flavour). Its leaves are generally used to make a flavoured drink that tastes similar to lemonade, while the whole plant can be brewed as herbal tea.
5. Lesser Trefoil Plant
Commonly known by some other names such as Trifolium dubium, the lesser trefoil, suckling clover, little hop clover, Lesser Trefoil plant is a grass weed from the Clover and pea family Fabaceae. This species represents traditional Irish Shamrock, natively found in Europe.
Like Clover, the Lesser Trefoil plant is also known for its nitrogen-fixing ability that helps the other surrounding plants. Its tiny little flowers attract bees for their nectar during the early fall and late spring.
The plant can grow in both dry and moist conditions. In dry sites, it blooms from May to June, and in moist environments, it grows from May to October. Without interruptions, it can thrive in waste areas and go around 30cm in height. Trefoil spreads less when seeds are sneaking; it connects the soil to the taproot, which helps it stand up during dry conditions.
Many people confuse this plant-like if it is therapeutic, but this is not true; this confusion happens because the pointers of leaves and flowers of the black medic are usually pointed, but the Trefoils are not one of them. If we talk about less quantity trefoil, it can easily thrive in various soil types like the soil lacking nutrients, soil that is not acidic, soil that drains fast, sandy soil and the dry roots area.
If it develops within an open land, it will spread all around in no time, resulting in choking and strangling the grass. Lesser Trefoil is very much like Legume types because both can repair the nitrogen from the soil; Lesser Trefoil is often used as the motivator of Irish.
If we talk about the beautiful flowers, the tiny yellowish blooms attract the bees to get their nectar before the early fall, which happens at the end of the spring. These flowers thrive in the bunch and on the top of a stalk; every one of the racemes includes 4 to 16 flowers.
Lesser Trefoil is also utilized as food for the animals because it is mainly found in fields and woods where it grows without interruptions of footsteps. This plant can be harmful to some plants, and one the same time, it can be helpful for some plants too.
If you cultivate it in the garden of apple fruit, the grown apples you get from the tree will become extra delicious. This plant can’t grow in the shaded areas, so avoid that. It is advised not to thrive this plant near camellias and gooseberries and their variants because it can cause the downfall of the fruits.
1. Which flower has clover-like leaves?
Yellow Wood sorrel has leaves that will remind you of Clover; it has bright green leaves and five-petaled yellow flowers similar to Clover. Like Clover, the leaves are palmately compound in three, but Yellow wood sorrel has heart-shaped leaves, which is the only difference.
2. Are clovers weeds?
Yes, Clover is considered as a weed that can take over your garden with its beautiful tiny flowers and leaves with petal shape. Clover is a plant that has its own specialities, and it can be grown as per need.
Still, many people consider it a nuisance because it is generally discovered in fields, woods, or basically in an open area, which makes it an unwanted plant and any unwanted plant considered as weed.
3. Is Clover bad for the garden?
No, Clover is not bad for your garden; every plant has its own specialities and benefits, same goes with Clover. It can guard your garden soil against any wind or water erosion. If you consider Clover as a decomposer to your soil, it will add up a large amount of organic matter to your soil; it can be used as green manure.
Growing clovers in your garden will add nutrients to your soil, and you will need less fertilization for your garden. Consider Clover as the natural mulch which will protect your soil in many ways.
It will be helpful to know about the plants you see in day to day life, especially if you are a breeder or like to grow plants. Every plant is different from its look-alike species in terms of specialities and growth needs. Different plants need a different environment to grow, some have herbal effects that will heal you, and some have poison effects that can harm you. Same goes with the five plants that look like Clover and mentioned in this detailed plant guide.
Knowledge is the power that allows you to handle every situation, and the same goes with farming. If you have knowledge related to your cultivated plant, it will grow ultimately without any stress. So always study the plant before you develop them.
Not every plant is suitable to grow at home; for those who are researching one of these five plants, this article can be a beneficial guide for you. Through this guide, you will know the needs and effects of the particular plant you are studying, and you will always be one step ahead.
A rotating team of writers and editors dedicated to providing reliable information for the readers of American Promise. We’re all passionate about cannabis and actively engaged in this “budding” industry.