Although it's winter now, imagine it's late spring or early summer. You are hiking out in the countryside, and come across a wide, open field of blossoms. Maybe an old farm field, one where the earth was disturbed a fair amount, and now is being slowly repaired by "invasives" and cover crops. The yellow heads of the Dandelions. Spikes of Nettles shooting skyward. The tiny, blue blossoms of Creeping Charlie. Clusters of white Garlic Mustard flowers.
Here is one place you might come across a bounty of Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). Loaded with calcium, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C and so much more, this member of the legume family is often used as a cover crop to restore the soil. Red Clover is adaptable to a variety of environments. It fixes nitrogen in the soil, and protects the ground from erosion. As a short lived perennial, it's easy to grow and it's attractive, pinkish flowers make a great filler for large spaces. In addition, when it dies off, the remaining organic matter offers an additional round of soil building nutrients.
Medicinally, Red Clover has a variety of uses. As a specific for women, it offers general support for breast health, relief from symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and it reduces menopausal hot flashes. In general use, it's known for supporting blood circulation and overall artery health. Research also suggests that Red Clover may help prevent heart disease as well as certain types of cancers.
Red Clover is often seeded in the fall, and so it spends the winter months in the cold soil, waiting for the first sign of warmth to begin popping forth. As you can see, much of it's medicinal benefits have to do with prevention, which I often link to how we tend to our bodies, minds, and spirits during these dark and colder days that mark the end of one year and the beginning of another. When I come across Red Clover in the wild, it prompts me to slow down, bend down, and touch the soft tufts of leaves. Winter invites us to do the same, doing our best to reign in heavy expenditures of energy, and to tap in to our inner most wisdom. Although the holiday season tends to be one of excesses, we can summon the gentle, but strong qualities of Red Clover to help us maintain balance, and take the time to rebuild whatever has been damaged or weakened in our lives throughout the year.
Take some time to learn more about this gem of a plant, and plan to visit it in the parks and fields this spring and summer. You'll be glad you did.