Six to twelve inches high. Leaves. - Divided into three oblong leaflets. Flowers. - Papilionaceous, yellow, small, in close heads.
Although this little plant is found in such abundance along our New England roadsides and in many other parts of the country as well, comparatively few people seem to recognize it as a member of the clover group, despite a marked likeness in the leaves and blossoms to others of the same family.
The name clover probably originated in the Latin clava-clubs, in reference to the fancied resemblance between the three-pronged club of Hercules and the clover leaf. The clubs of our playing-cards and the trifle (trefoil) of the French are probably an imitation of the same leaf.
The nonesuch, Medicago lupulina, with downy, procumbent stems, and flowers which grow in short spikes, is nearly allied to the hop clover. In its reputed superiority as fodder its English name is said to have originated. Dr. Prior says that for many years this plant has been recognized in Ireland as the true shamrock.