Red Clover is a lovely little meadow herb that is common throughout Britain and Europe. It made its way to North America with the first settlers and once arrived, was readily absorbed into the Materia Medica of Native Americans. Since then it has become so widespread that Vermont adopted it as its official state flower. The sweet little flower heads are particularly popular with bees, bumble bees and butterflies, but the sweetness is not well preserved on drying. Clovers belong to the pea family, which is famous for its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. It is for this purpose that it is often planted as ground cover or intermediary silage crop. Foragers usually use it in combination with other herbs since by itself it does not taste of much, but bulks up a meal and adds some valuable nutrients. It can also be mixed with Coltsfoot to make a simple herbal tobacco.
Red clover contains isoflavones, which have a proven effect on female hormones and much has been written about Red Clover as an herb for menopausal problems. However, the research results involving the whole herb are not consistent. This may be due to differing gathering conditions since plants vary in their cycles just like humans do and produce different amounts of certain chemical compounds at different times. More traditional uses of Red Clover include blood cleansing - especially in connection with skin problems in children, childhood eczema and psoriasis and as an anti-carrhal remedy for cough, bronchitis and whooping cough. Red Clover has a mildly tonic effect on the nerves, which in turn eases indigestion, nausea and headaches. Externally it has been applied as a salve or strong decoction for wounds, ulcers and sores and is reported as a folk remedy for certain types of cancer. It is also used as an eye wash for conjunctivitis.