Information on Hare's-foot Clover

Common Name: Hare's-foot Clover
Scientific Name: Trifolium arvense
Irish Name: Cos mhaideach
Family Group: Fabaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Hare's-foot Clover is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


Delicate, delightful, downy – this little annual member of the Pea family is a most attractive wildflower of dry, mostly coastal, sandy soils.  Mainly found on the south and east coasts and also in some northern regions of Ireland, it flowers from June to September.  Growing to no more than 25cm high, all of the plant is covered in soft hairs but it is the flowerheads which are its unique feature.  These are dense, cylindrical, egg-shaped heads (2-3cm long) of tiny, pale pink flowers, each little flower surrounded by a long sepal tube which has fine, hairy teeth giving the flowerheads a soft, silky appearance.  The flowerheads are stalked, some being axillary but most being terminal.  The trefoil leaves have narrow, oval leaflets which are scarcely toothed.  This is a native plant which belongs to the family Fabaceae.  

In 1977, I discovered this little plant growing beside a footbridge over the railway track near Killiney, Co Dublin.  However it vanished altogether from that site after the DART was installed on that line and the bridge modified in 1984.  I was therefore delighted to find it again, this time on the North Bull Island in Co Dublin in 2009 and I photographed it there.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Clover, Hare's-foot
Clover, Hare's-foot

Like most legumes (members of the pea family), Hare's-foot Clover is capable of fixing nitrogen into the soil which greatly benefits fertility soils. The production of nitrogen in the soil occurs after the plant dies, the nitrogen is then released which makes it of use to other subsequent plants and helps to fertilise the soil.  Hare's-foot Clover was introduced into North America but has now become an invasive species in some parts.