Lupinaster burchellianum (Ser.) Eckl. & Zeyh.
Trifolium basileianum Chiov.
Trifolium johnstonii Oliv.
Trifolium burchellianum is an ascending to prostrate, herbaceous perennial plant growing from a taproot. The plant produces new roots at leaf nodes, forming a mat of growth 5 - 20cm tall
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is sometimes grown as a green manure and as a ground cover and ornamental[
Eating this plant can cause bloat, especially if larger quantities are consumed[
Eastern and southern Africa - Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Lesotho, S. Africa
Occurs in lightly grazed coastal areas, roadsides, upland and highland grasslands, openings in evergreen forests, bamboo forests and moorland; at elevations up to 3,700 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Trifolium burchellianum is a plant of the warm temperate zone to higher elevations in the tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 3,700 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 14 - 24°c, but can tolerate 10 - 32°c[
]. Somewhat frost tolerant, when dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -5°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -2°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 625 - 2,500mm[
Prefers a position in full sun, tolerating light shade[
]. Grows best in light to medium textured soils of low to moderate fertility[
]. Established plants are tolerant of drought, but can also withstand occasional short periods of inundated soils[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 5 - 7[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
]. Effective nodulation is achieved by Rhizobium strains that are not suited to European clovers that nodulate at a lower pH, usually above pH 5.5[
Used for its medicinal properties by tribal people in southern Africa[
The plant is a permanent component of mixed grass-legume pastures in more intensive systems. It is used as an ornamental and ground cover plant in moderately shaded situations in the subtropics and upland tropics[
Seed - the seed of Trifolium species is often of two kinds - hard-coated and soft-coated. The soft-coated seeds can germinate immediately, whilst hard-coated seeds remain dormant until the seedcoat has broken down enough to permit the ingress of water. In order to speed up and improve germination rates, hard-coated seeds benefit from scarification before sowing. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. The seed can usually be sown in spring in situ.
If the seed is in short supply, it might be better to sow it in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.