Bobrovia alpina (L.) A.P.Khokhr.
Lupinaster alpinus (L.) C.Presl
Common Name: Alpine Clover
Trifolium alpinum is a herbaceous perennial plant growing from a large taproot that can be 100cm or more long. It produces a number of short stems from the root crown, forming dense tufts of growth[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. It is used in restoration projects in the Alps to re-establish mountain pastures and is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens[
The species is endemic to Europe and has a relatively wide distribution in mountain areas in southwestern and western Europe. The estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) for this alpine clover exceeds the values needed for a threatened category. As it is a common species in grassland and rocky habitats over a range of altitudes, it is inferred that the area of occupancy and population also exceed these values. Although some of its habitat may have suffered from declines, in this common species these declines are not suspected to have led to population declines sufficient to trigger a threatened rating. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Europe - Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Andorra, France, Italy
Rocky meadows and mountain grasslands; growing on acid soils and is typical of poor alpine grassland and pastures containing Nardus stricta; at elevations from 1,000 - 2,900 metres[
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The plant prefers soils that are lime-deficient, comparatively nutrient-deficient, deep, warm and not too wet[
]. On lime-rich soils it only grows if there is a thick humus layer[
]. The pH must be low, with an optimum range between 4.5 and 5.4. There should be sufficient phosphorus in the soil for rapid juvenile development[
There should be no pathogenic nematodes of the gender Pratylenchus in the soil; otherwise total losses in seed multiplication will occur[
This species has a slow juvenile development and produces conspicuously little leaf mass. Thus, populations with acceptable weed infestation are only possible if there is mechanical weed control (weeding, brushing and hoeing between rows) optimally combined with chemical control[
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[
When growing plants from seed, inoculation with soil from the site where the seed was collected, provides the necessary soil bacteria and stimulates the growth rate, as demonstrated in experiments[
]. The root has a sweet flavour, similar to liquorice[
The root is believed to have anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant properties. It is used in the treatment of stomach ulcers, oral and throat infections[
This species is an important component and nitrogen fixer in acid alpine grasslands[
Seed - up to 85% of the seed has a hard seedcoat and benefits from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. 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.
Seed can be sown in situ, but if it is in short supply then 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.
Division in spring.