Subterranean Clover - Trifolium subterraneum


Low, hairy, prostrate plant. Leaves broadly heart shaped and variable in size. Flowers white or whitish, 8 to 14 mm in clusters at the base of leaves, with a mix of fertile and sterile florets. Uniquely, the flower heads bury themselves in the ground after flowering and as fruit ripens.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

A mix of sterile and fertile florets; sterile flowers are without corollae and are slender, rigid, palmately lobed calyces.  

Recording advice

The County Recorder has asked for a specimen of this plant to be retained for verification


Dry grassy habitats, cliffs and rocky places with shallow soil, and preferring sandy or fine gravelly soils.

When to see it

May and June.

Life History


UK Status

Local and often coastal, mainly in the southern half of Britain.

VC55 Status

Rare in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 3 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current checklist (Jeeves 2011), it is listed as Native; free-draining sandy grassland; now apparently confined to the Soar Valley.

It is on the Rare Plant Register

be our species champion

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map