Lesser Trefoil - Trifolium dubium


    Low to short, usually hairy with spreading to ascending stems. Trifoliate, leaflets oval to heart shaped, the terminal leaflet short-stalked. Flowers yellow, becoming browner with age, small 2 to 3 mm in small heads with up to 6 flowers.

    Similar Species

    Other Hop-trefoils (Trifolium campestre and T micranthum) and (when not in fruit) Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)

    Identification difficulty
    ID guidance

    Standards are ridged like a roof and fold down either side of the pods, unlike Trifolium campestre. Flowers brighter and smaller than Hop Trefoil.  When not in fruit, both trefoils are similar to Black Medick in flower, but Black Medick leaves are much more hairy and have an apiculate point (i.e a short fine 'needle' from the end of the leaflet) 

    Recording advice

    General photo in habitat and a side-on view of flowers


    Grassy habitats on dry soils, roadside verges and waste ground.

    When to see it

    May to October.

    Life History


    UK Status

    Common throughout Britain.

    VC55 Status

    Common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 484 of the 617 tetrads.

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    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map