Scientific name(s)
Plant description
Pasture type and use
Where it grows
Animal production
Further information
Author and date
Download PDF

Go to the top
White clover

Scientific name(s)

Trifolium repens



Plant description

Plant: rhizomatous, prostrate perennial with stolons from crown rooting at nodes.  Some stolons may be buried.

Stems: smooth, hairless.  Stipules short, needle-point on bluntish end.  Spherical seedhead

Leaves: trifoliate, leaflets oval or heart shape may have light crescent mark on upper side. Smooth, hairless

Flowers: 30-40 white/seedhead; dense clusters on long stalk; globe shaped to 2.5 cm diameter; pale pink/white, fade to brown

Pods:  small, oblong pods containing 3-4 seeds

Seeds:  brown/yellow; egg/heart-shape; ~1.6 million/kg

Pasture type and use

Most productive perennial for high rainfall/irrigated pasture; can maintain presence through ability to recruit seedlings.  Vigorous growth in spring/summer can facilitate considerable nitrogen fixation by dominant stands

Where it grows


> 700 mm


Suited to a wide range of soil pH > 4.5; optimum 5.3.  Tolerates low exchangeable aluminium and poorly drained soils.  Well suited to peaty soil.


Cold and frost tolerant. Optimum range, 18-30C


Companion species

Grasses:  most temperate and subtropical spp.  including perennial ryegrass, phalaris, tall fescue, kikuyu, paspalum, Rhodes grass and Setaria

Legumes: strawberry clover, red clover and sub. clovers

Herbs:  plantain, chicory

Sowing/planting rates as single species

2-4 kg/ha; sow at 5-15 mm into a clean, finely worked seed bed and roll

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

0.5-2 kg/ha

Sowing time

Autumn or spring


Group B


Correct any nutrient deficiencies, especially K, P, Mo, S, Cu, B


Maintenance fertliser

For optimum growth Olsen soil P > 15


Very suitable for silage/hay. Excellent cattle pasture.  Can be grazed hard but is susceptible to sustained heavy grazing by sheep in dry conditions; densely stoloniferous but varies with cultivars, small leaved cultivars are less susceptible.

Seed production

Prolific seeder.  Yields >1 t/ha but varies with cultivar.

Ability to spread

Recruits seedlings well; cattle effectively spread seed via dung

Weed potential

Moderate on disturbed land free of competitive species only. Prolific seed set and some hard seed dispersed by livestock

Major pests

Red legged earthmite, lucerne flea, corbies, cockchafers, webworm, nematodes, cutworms, budworms, reticulated slug

Major diseases

Fungal:  Clover rot (Sclerotinia trifoliorum)
              Wart disease (Physoderma trifolii)
Viral:      Alfalfa Mosaic Virus, White Clover Mosaic Virus,
                Clover Yellow Vein Virus                
Mycoplasma:   Phyllody

Herbicide susceptibility

A wide range of weeds may be encountered.  When choosing selective herbicides, consider the stage of growth of the white clover and what non-target companion species are present.  For detailed information consult local weed agronomists or visit NSW DPI - Weed control in Lucerne and Pastures 2007

Animal production

Feeding value

High; nutritive value decline with maturity is considerably less than for most other species


Highly palatable

Production potential

Good autumn and spring/early summer vigour; good winter-active cvv are available for districts (eg coastal) with milder winter

Livestock disorders/toxicity

High bloat risk if dominant in spring. May contain cyanogenic glucoside compounds; the concentration is rarely sufficient to be  significant


Group Cultivar Seed source/Information
Large leaved Braidwood Seed Genetics Australia
  El Lucero AusWest Seeds
  Emerald AusWest Seeds
  Excel Ladino Seed Genetics Australia
  Grasslands Kopu II Wrightson Seeds
  Haifa PlantTech
  Osceola Wrightson Seeds
  Quest PlantTech
  RD 19 Taree Ladino Seed Genetics Australia
  SuperHaifa Seed Genetics Australia
  SuperHaifa II Seed Genetics Australia
  Super Ladino Seed Genetics Australia
  Tamar AusWest Seeds
  Tamarmax Seed Distributors
  Tillman II  
  Waverly PlantTech
  Will Ladino PGG Seeds
Large-Medium Grasslands Bounty Wrightson Seeds
  Grasslands NuSiral AusWest Seeds
  Grasslands Pitau AusWest Seeds
  Grasslands Sustain Heritage Seeds
  Grasslands Trophy PGG Seeds
  Tribute PGG Seeds
Medium Canterbury Seed Genetics Australia
  Grasslands Challenge AusWest Seeds
  Grasslands Huia AusWest Seeds
  Grasslands Nomad AusWest Seeds
  Irrigation AusWest Seeds
  Mink Heritage Seeds
  Storm Heritage Seeds
  Trifol sweet AusWest Seeds
Blair Technology Pty Ltd
Medium-Small Grasslands Demand CropMark Seeds
  Grasslands Prestige PGG Seeds
  Star Seed Distributors
  SuperHuia Seed Genetics Australia
Small Grasslands Tahora Wrightson Seeds
  Prop AusWest Seeds
  Denotes that this variety is protected by Plant Breeder's Rights

Further information




CSIRO, Departments of Primary Industry

Author and date

KFM Reed

August 2008