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


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

UK Map