Zig-zag clover is similar to red clover but has a darker flower head and leaves that are generally larger with more pointed leaflets that lack the familiar pale ‘V’ mark. These features are not always as obvious as some flower books make out and the most reliable differences are the length of the flower stalk, which is long in zig-zag clover and short in red clover, and the shape of the stipules which are very narrow and taper to a green point in this species but triangular and ending in a brown bristle-point in red clover.
Flowers from June to September.
Zig-zag clover is a long lived native perennial of neutral grasslands on heavy soils and occasionally in hedgerows, woodland edges, verges and waste land. It is probably most associated with the flower rich hay meadows (technically known as MG3 grassland) of Durham, North Yorkshire and Cumbria. Zig-zag clover is very frost hardy and can tolerate a certain amount of shade although in these conditions it can be vulnerably to mildew.
Seed is important for the colonization of new sites but once established it can spread by means of rhizomes.
As with red clove zig-zag clover is an important source of pollen and nectar for a number of bumblebee and other bee species.
Can be sown at any time of the year, may be a little slow to germinate with some evidence that peak germination occurs in autumn. As it can rapidly colonize newly sown meadows we would recommend that it constituted no more than 1% by weight of the total seed mix.