Long-headed Clover

Long-headed Clover, one of the the Lizard’s clover specialities, flowers on the cliffs at Caerthillian in early summer.
Photo: Steve Townsend

Scientific name: Trifolium incarnatum ssp molinerii

Cornish name: Meilhionan (the word generally for clover)

Conservation status: GB Red Data List: Vulnerable 

Long-headed Clover, previously found on a small handful of other locations in England, is now largely restricted to sites on The Lizard. There is also a population on Jersey in the Channel Islands, and it was found at a site in south Devon five years ago (Stace, 2010). The distribution of this maritime clover of cliff tops on The Lizard is restricted by the fact that it does not thrive on serpentine-based soils, and is found instead on the schists and short grassland of sites such as Caerthillian, one of its best-known populations.

The long, cone-shaped head of this clover makes it very distinctive. Its creamy pink or yellowish flowers can be seen from May to June.

Did you know…?

…Long-headed Clover was discovered in 1839 by the renowned botanist Rev. C. A. Johns

…it is closely related to Crimson Clover, Trifolium incarnatum ssp incarnatum

More information and references:

Bates, R., and Scolding, B., 2002. Wild Flowers of The Lizard. Cornwall County Council, Cornwall.

Rose, F. and O’Reilly, C., 2006. The Wild Flower Key, 2nd edition. Frederick Warne, London.

Stace, C., 2010. New Flora of the British Isles, third edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Published: June 2013
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Steve Townsend