Friday, 17 February 2012

Angela's top 20 wild flowers; Number 17 is Clover

Red clover, one of the first wild flowers to bloom in spring,
this picture was taken in April 2011
Red clover is perhaps one of our most recognisable wild flowers here in the UK.  It's distinctive trefoil leaf  has been borrowed by Girl Guides all over the world to symbolise their three part promise, and the hope of finding that elusive four-leaved clover has had many a child grovelling about on their knees.  It's also a blessed curse in my lawn; blessed because it stays green in the summer and doesn't need as much mowing as grass; cursed because it is forever thwarting my attempts at producing a velvety sward.

Clover flowers are rich in nectar and nourish bees from late spring through to early autumn, they're especially important to bumble bees awakening from hibernation and looking for a hearty breakfast because clover pollen is high in protein.  That's one of the main reasons that red clover (Trifolium pratense) is included in the seed mix for Meadowmat

Bumblebees are in decline, mainly because they're aren't enough of their favourite flowers available to feed them...remember, bumblebees don't make honey, their lavae feed on pollen. Bumblebees really like pollens from the legume family of plants, that's clovers, vetches, peas and beans because they're rich in essential nutrients. 

Why should we mind that bumblebees are in decline? well, if you're into growing your own veg, or if you're a farmer, you'll know that bumblebess are the ones that help to pollinate almost all of the fruit, peas and beans that we eat, and many of the veggies too.  A world without bumblebees would be a world without  baked beans or apple pie.......or scrumpy! It doesn't bear thinking about!

So if you want to help bees and other pollinating insects.......grow some clover!
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