General: plant height: 5-20 cm tall. Growth habit: mat-forming perennial. Stems: several, erect or creeping, branching from base, rooting at nodes, hairless or very sparsely soft-hairy.
Leaves: alternate, with 3 leaflets which are obovate and usually somewhat notched, 1-2 cm long, finely toothed. The stalks from only slightly to many times longer than the leaflets. Stipules 3-10 mm long, joined most of their length, the free portion shortly pointed.
Flowers: white or cream to pinkish-tinged, 5-9 mm long, drooping when older, on stalks 1-5 mm long, numerous on heads from leaf axils. Heads round, 15-20 mm broad, without involucres, long-stalked. Calyx hairless, about half the length of the corolla, the teeth green, lance- to awl-shaped, about equal to the tube.
Mostly on disturbed ground, or apparently native habitats such as mountain meadows, in all parts of MT. Introduced and established throughout w. N. America.
Leaves of white clover are edible, raw or cooked. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower, and are used in salads, soups etc. On their own they can be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach. Flowers and seed pods has been dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour or sprinkled on cooked foods such as boiled rice. The young flowers can also be eaten raw in salads. The root can be eaten if cooked. A delicate sweet herb tea is made from the fresh or dried flowers. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavor to cakes etc.
The flowering heads have substances that counteract scrofula, tend to purify and cleanse the blood, cleanse boils, sores, wounds, etc., heal disorders and diseases of the eye, and are tonic. A tea has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, fevers and leucorrhea. A tincture of the leaves can be applied as an ointment to gout. A tea of the flowers has been used as an eyewash. The Cherokee used a tea of white clover for fevers and "Bright's disease". The Delaware and Algonkian Indians used a tea infusion of dried leaves taken for coughs and colds.
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