The Red Clover is the state flower of Vermont, and is one of the commonest, largest-flowered, and best-known of the Clovers. Some years ago this redheaded beauty created a sensation among botanists and agriculturists that is very interesting. A quantity of the seed was introduced into Australia where it was cultivated and grew beautifully, but the flowers failed hopelessly to produce seed the first year. Again another lot of seed was planted, and when the new plants began to blossom, a number of bumblebees, especially imported from America, were liberated among the flowers. The result was immediately gratifying, and from that day to this, Australia has successfully cultivated the Red Clover. Consequently, our dear old bumblebee has established, beyond any possible doubt in the minds of the pessimistic, the absolute dependency, for its very existence, of at least one flower upon insect life. Cross fertilization did it.
RED, or MEADOW CLOVER. Trifolium pratense.
"Now and then the honey bee, Laden with its treasure, Darting from the Clover blooms, Hums its drowsy measure."
Our warmest memories revert to those happiest days of our childhood, when we actually "lived in Clover," and ate "Sour Grass," and sucked the honey from the nectar tubes of the florets which were pulled from the Clover heads. Pity the child who is denied the opportunity of roaming the fields and doing likewise!
This perennial species is extensively cultivated for forage, and was originally introduced into America from Europe. The rather large, leafy, and branched stalk is more or less hairy, and rises erect, from six inches to two feet in height. The Clovers form large, loose, spreading tufts, and their slightly veined leaves are long-stemmed and thin textured. They are compounded comrnonly of three, or occasionally of from four to eleven, short-stemmed oval, long oval or egg-shaped leaflets, which are often notched at the apex and narrowed toward the base where they unite at the same point. Their margins are almost entire, and their surface is marked with white or cream-white, triangular forms. The joints are sheathed with a pair of bristly pointed wings or stipules. The large, handsome flower head is globe or egg shaped, and is set closely between a pair of compound leaves at the tip of the branches, and from the side of the stalk. It is composed of many densely clustered florets. The colour varies from crimson to magenta with white bases, the latter showing less distinctly at a distance. The florets finally fade to a dark brown, but they remain erect until after the fruit ripens. The Red Clover grows perennially in fields and meadows everywhere, and is particularly common east of the Mississippi River. It blossoms from April to November, according to locality. This species is also a native of northern Asia.