One of the more familiar flowery faces in fields across the land, red clover is enshrined in myths and highly respected by herbal healers. Initially a stranger to Vermont, red clover was designated the state flower in 1894. This bloom is also honored as the national flower of Denmark.
What does it do?
In Back to Eden—a classic herbal still read by countless health enthusiasts—Jethro Kloss cites red clover’s reliability in treating asthma, bronchitis, burns, ulcers, syphilis and cancerous tumors. Red clover is one of eight herbs found in essiac tea, an herbal concoction given to Canadian nurse Renee Caisse (“essiac” spelled backward) by an Ojibway native medicine man. Many decades later, this anti-tumor blend is still a popular item at health stores in two countries. Red clover flowers are rendered into wines and herbal teas for the purpose of easing coughs and respiratory spasms. Researchers are currently investigating red clover as a possible botanical response to AIDS, diabetes and heightened cardiovascular risk associated with menopause. As a legume, red clover enriches soil through nitrogen fixation. As a result, it is grown as a cover crop to improve farmland.
About the herb
First gracing the world in Europe, Western Asia and Northwest Africa, red clover has proven to be marvelously adaptive to foreign soils. This crimson wonder blossoms from Maine to California and all states in between. Growing between 8 and 16 inches in height, red clover has leaves that are trifoliate (i.e., comprised of three leaflets). St. Patrick employed this characteristic common to both red and white clovers to good advantage, explaining the three-person—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—nature of the Christian Deity through this symbolism. The rare four-leafed clover is believed to bring its finder good fortune.
To reduce airway congestion add a teaspoon of dried red clover flowers to a cup of boiled water and allow the brew to set for 10 minutes. Add a cinnamon stick and a fresh orange slice for flavor. Caution: patients taking anticoagulation (blood thinning) medicines or who are susceptible to breast tumor formation should avoid red clover.