A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. At least that’s what Ralph Waldo Emerson said. Using Emerson’s approach as a litmus test, clover is no weed. Clover has properties which yield environmental, health and even magic benefits. So, put down the weed killer and read on!

Originally found in Europe, Central Asia, Australia and Northern Africa this small, perennial, herbaceous plant comes in two types, white clover and red clover. White clover (Trifolium repens, botanically speaking) is small, growing close to the ground. It has small white flower heads and variegated leaves. Red clover (Trifolium pretense) is larger, with pinkish purple flower heads and tall stems.

Environmental benefits: Farmers plant clover as a cover crop between growing seasons because clover naturally restores nitrogen to the soil. So, think twice before you apply broad leaf weed killers to your lawn – in addition to introducing harmful toxins to your family environment, you would be reducing the benefits of an important natural fertilization process. Clover also attracts honey bees and other pollinators, so planting a few clovers around your garden can help promote greater pollination, and therefore more flower, fruit and vegetable production.

Health benefits:

Clover is packed with hidden healing properties used to treat fever, coughs, and colds. It’s rich in vitamins A, B2, B3, C, and E. Clover also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, chromium, and lecithin. Red clover also contains isoflavin, which helps treat certain forms of lymphatic, breast and ovarian cancer. This wonderful plant reduces pain and inflammation and detoxifies the lymph, lungs, blood, liver, and kidneys. When it comes to gout, clover aids in reducing uric acid.

Clover is an expectorant, a decongestant, an anti-asthmatic, a stimulator and a muscle relaxer. Externally, clover is used to treat acne, eczemas, insect stings, ulcerations, psoriasis, and abscesses. It also helps detoxify the blood.

Interested in trying the clover? Clover leaves and flowers can be added to garnishes or tossed salads. Eat the fresh green leaves raw, but steam the old ones and add them to a side dish of spinach, kale, soup, stir fry or pasta. Don’t overcook the leaves or you will lose all the nutrients – just steam them until they are wilted.

If you harvest red clover flower heads as they bloom, then dry them out, you can use them in your teas (or for magic, the choice is yours :)). As for the white clover, their flowers are edible but should only be eaten in small quantities.

Magic benefits: Since ancient times clover, the national flower of Ireland, has been used not only for medicine but also for magic. In folk magic, adding red clover to your ritual bath is supposed to help attract money and prosperity, while chasing out evil and unwanted ghosts at the same time. Wearing some white clover on your clothes, or hanging white clover in the corners of your property or home is supposed to ward off bad curses.

The four leaf clover is known as a good luck charm because it protects from evil spirits, disease, and witches, but also used to heal illnesses and see fairies. If you are lucky enough to find a real one, hold onto it! On the contrary, if you happen to see a five leaf clover be aware – the five leaf clovers are supposed to be bad luck!

Next time you curse the so-called “weed” growing in your front lawn remember the amazing environmental, health and magic benefits the clover brings! Saint Patrick’s Day has past but now that you can fully appreciate all the virtues that clover has to offer, why not add a few red and white clovers to your vinegars, teas, homemade beers, or wines?

Be sure to toast Ralph Waldo Emerson when you do!