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Trifolium dubium

Trifolium dubium Sibth.


Least Hop Clover, Small Hop Clover

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusTrifolium“Three-leaved,” for the 3-leaf clusters

About plant names...

Least hop clover is one of several difficult-to-distinguish yellow clovers. From Eurasia and central Asia, it probably arrived in North America by accident, where it has become widespread.

Trifolium dubium (Least Hop Clover, Small Hop Clover)

By TeunSpaans

Identification: Trifolium (“three-leaved”) is a large genus, and three common yellow hop clovers are compared below. Black medic, a relative, looks closely similar to low hop clover, so this is included too.


Trifolium dubium (Least Hop Clover, Small Hop Clover)

7/27/2009 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 9" (18 × 23 cm) ID is uncertain

Trifolium aureum

Trifolium campestre
Common Name

Hop Clover

Low Hop Clover
Plant Plants 6-18" (15-45 cm) high. Up to 16" (40 cm) tall, sometimes erect, sometimes growing along the ground


About ¾" (1.9 cm) high. Flowers turn brown and wilt, seeds fall to the ground instead of forming a fruit


Yellow, less than ½" (1.3 cm) across; roughly spherical, with 20-40 individual flowers; flowerheads become brown with age. Upper petals of the flowers have grooves.


Groups of 3. Central leaf is not on a separate stem (petiole). Leaflets about ¾" (1.9 cm) long, ¼" (6.3 mm) wide.


Groups of 3, about ¾" (1.9 cm) long; with small teeth near the leaf tips. The central leaf is on a longer stem (petiole) than with other hop clovers, often notched at the top
Stem Multiply branched, usually erect Green or reddish green, multiply branched
Seeds Inconspicuous Inconspicuous
Range/ Zones

Habitats Grasslands, fields, roadsides, wastelands Temperate grasslands, fields, roadsides, wastelands, cultivated fields
Type Wild Wild
Occurrence Common Common


Medicago lupulina
Common Name

Black Medic
Plant Plant may reach up to 30" (76 cm) long


Rounded, about ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm)


Three leaves, with slightly serrated tips, center leaf on separate petiole
Stem Often prostrate, light green or reddish green, covered with white hairs
Seeds Black, coiled


Seedpods are “coiled”—this is probably the most unique feature of black medic
Range/ Zones

Habitats Prairies (black soil, clay), weedy meadows, old fields, cropland, pastures, vacant lots, landfills, cemeteries, lawns, areas along railroads and roadsides, and miscellaneous waste areas; common in low-cut lawns
Type Wild



Trifolium dubium (Least Hop Clover, Small Hop Clover)

8/11/2009 · Townsend, MA
≈ 9 × 7" (22 × 18 cm) ID is uncertain

Trifolium dubium (Least Hop Clover, Small Hop Clover)

9/18/2016 · Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, Deer Isle, ME

Trifolium dubium (Least Hop Clover, Small Hop Clover)

6/16/2013 · Sonny and Donna’s, Tenant’s Harbor, ME
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 16 cm)

Trifolium dubium (Least Hop Clover, Small Hop Clover)

9/20/2014 · By Richard Old, XID Services, Inc., United States

Online References:

Trifolium dubium in Paghat's Garden

Trifolium dubium on the Ecology of Commanster

Trifolium dubium on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Trifolium dubium on CalPhotos

Trifolium dubium at the Vanderbilt University Bioimages web site

Trifolium dubium on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Trifolium dubium from the Jepson Manual


Newcomb, Lawrence, Morrison, Gordon (Illus.), Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, Little, Brown and Company, 1977, p. 58

Peterson, Roger Tory, McKenny, Margaret, Peterson Field Guides: A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North Central North America, Houghton Mifflin, 1968, p. 150

Trifolium dubium description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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