Lojaconoa microcephala (Pursh) Bobrov
Common Name: Smallhead Clover
Trifolium microcephalum is an annual plant with mainly slender, ascending to procumbent stems; it can grow 20 - 40cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Eating this plant can cause bloat, especially if larger quantities are consumed[
Western N. America - British Columbia and Washington to Montana, south to California, Arizona and Baja California.
Moist meadows, sandy river banks and drier hillsides[
]. Open grassy places at elevations up to 2,500 metres[
Succeeds in a moist, well-drained circum-neutral soil in full sun[
]. Succeeds in poor soils.
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[
]. Buttercups growing nearby depress the growth of the nitrogen bacteria by means of a root exudate[
]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. Generally eaten before the plant comes into flower. Eating larger quantities can cause bloat - traditionally, the leaves were eaten with other foods that aid in digestion and therefore prevent bloating[
Trifolium species generally grow well in an apple orchard, the trees will produce tastier fruit that stores better[
]. The plants should not be grown with camellias or gooseberries because they harbour a mite that can cause fruit drop in the gooseberries and premature budding in the camellias[
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow 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 in late spring.