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Hybrid clover

Hybrid clover, or pink clover, or Swedish clover (Latin Trifólium hybrídum) is a herbaceous perennial plant of the legume family, widely grown as a forage crop throughout the world.

Growing places of hybrid clover

Hybrid clover prefers cool and humid habitats. It tolerates acidic, alkaline, marginal and poorly drained soils well, but not drought. Originating from continental Europe and Southwest Asia, this species has naturalized throughout most of Europe, America and Asia, mainly through the cultivation of hay, pasture and forage. It is also used to restore and improve the soil. There are reports that this species can be difficult to contain after introduction and that it easily takes root along roads, fields and wastelands.

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Description of hybrid clover

It is a herbaceous upright perennial plant growing from the root crown to a height of 30-60 cm. Hybrid clover gives a taproot with many lateral branches and has a straight or drooping form of growth with many hollow branched stems. Plants tend to tilt or lie down unless supported by companion plants. The leaves are trifoliate, without markings. Leaflets 1-3 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, glabrous, obovate, finely toothed at margins. Alternating compound leaves form along the stems. The bare stipules at the base of the peduncles taper to a point. Inflorescences are axillary and on petioles longer than leaves. Spherical racemes with 30-50 flowers, 6-10 mm in size, bracts are absent. The calyx is short, the petals are not fused, the flowers are 5-10 mm long, at first white, but turn pink, and finallybrown and with age. Initial growth is strong, flowers appear in mid-summer, usually from June to September. There are 2-4 seeds per flower. Seeds are smooth, cordate, 1 mm long. They form as short, wide pods ranging from green to greenish-brown, but darken almost to black with age. Plants are not creeping and have almost no vegetative distribution. The flowering period occurs intermittently in the summer for 1-3 months.The flowering period occurs intermittently in the summer for 1-3 months.The flowering period occurs intermittently in the summer for 1-3 months.

Name features and similar species

The hybrid or Swedish clover is named after the arrival of Alsike in Sweden, where Karl von Linnaeus studied this species. He thought it was a new hybrid between white clover (T. repens) and red clover (T. pratense), hence the name hybridum. However, while the hybrid clover shares many of the characteristics of white and red clovers, it is a distinct species. There are clear differences, both in structure and ecology of these species. White clover differs from hybrid clover in the form of growth; white clover is creeping, and hybrid clover is more erect. Red clover is clearly distinguished by its distinctly pubescent calyx, and it (and often white clover) usually has a white spot on the leaves, which is also lacking in hybrid clover. Also Swedish clover requires a more humid habitat than red clover.and can withstand periodic floods. It blooms a little later than red and white clover. Like many other species, it is pollinated by insects. However, the calyx of a hybrid clover is shorter than, for example, a red clover, and it is easier to pollinate, because insects with short proboscis can also reach the back of the flower. The plant usually produces an abundance of seeds that can germinate immediately after ripening, but it is typical for hybrid clover that hard-shelled seeds only germinate the following spring.which can germinate immediately after ripening, but it is typical for hybrid clover that hard-shelled seeds germinate only the following spring.which can germinate immediately after ripening, but it is typical for hybrid clover that hard-shelled seeds germinate only the following spring.

Hybrid clover biology

Like other species of the pea family, the rootstock of the hybrid clover contains rhizobia bacteria. These long-lived bacteria are able to bind nitrogen from the atmosphere in the earth for use by plants and fertilize their habitat. In return, bacteria receive assimilation products as food.
T. hybridum produces a large number of seeds, which is its primary survival method. These seeds are able to remain viable for up to six years in favorable conditions. The plant does not spread or propagate by cuttings.

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Physiology and phenology of hybrid clover

Initial growth from seed is strong and therefore hybrid clover overwhelms many of its competitors. Flowers appear in mid-summer, usually from June to September. Seeds ripen from June to October. Subsequent growth is slow and weakens in a year or two. Strong plants or grasses can crowd out this species under favorable conditions, and weeds can be detrimental to the rooting of the stand. Plants are not creeping and have almost no vegetative distribution.

Where is hybrid clover used

The plant is sown along with grass or other plants such as red clover to improve the soil, or for hay or pasture. It is rich in nutrients, provides nutrition and protection for livestock and wildlife.

Used for green fertilizers, site restoration and soil improvement in forestry conditions and on moist, acidic soils.

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Optimal use of grazing in a clover field

The hybrid clover tolerates frequent and close grazing, but does not tolerate animal movements. Optimal grazing is best done after a full canopy of leaves. Rest periods of 4 weeks or more are required. Animals should not be grazed during the last 6 weeks of the growing season.
Hybrid clover is less bulky than annual or red clover, it provides 4-5 tons of dry matter per hectare together with grass.