Twin-headed Clover

Caerthillian is one of the best places to see some of the rare clovers that are found on the Lizard in late spring, including Twin-headed Clover.
Photo: Steve Townsend

Scientific name: Trifolium bocconei

Cornish name: Meilhionan (the word generally for clover)

Conservation status: Vulnerable on both the GB Red Data List and IUCN criteria.

Of the rare Lizard clovers, this is perhaps the rarest, occurring on about ten sites. It has very specific habitat requirements for open south-facing clifftops and cove valleys with short grass, and grazing is therefore a critical conservation management measure. Outside of the UK, Twin-headed Clover can also be found in the south and west of Europe.

Twin-headed Clover is an annual, germinating in the autumn and then overwintering before flowering from May to June. It is about 5 to 10 cm in height. Its name derives from the fact that the white to pink flower heads generally occur in pairs.

Did you know…?

…Twin-headed Clover has also been known from two locations on Jersey, but has not been found there for some time

…a hot summer drought followed by a warm and wet spring the next year provides the best conditions for populations to flourish

More information and references:

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

Published: June 2013
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Top: Steve Townsend. Main photo this page: By Dr. Marco Iocchi (Own work – Pian di Spille, Tarquinia, Italia) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons