Trifolium aureum (Golden Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as: Palmate Hop Clover, Yellow Hop Clover
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual, biennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; fields, waste areas, roadsides
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:6 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] A single round to oval flower head on a ½ to 2-inch stalk arising from a leaf axil. Heads are ½ to ¾ inch long, densely packed with tiny yellow pea-shaped flowers that turn a creamy color then rusty brown before going to seed, giving plants a somewhat calico appearance. A plant has numerous flowers on branching stems.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are palmately compound in 3s, on a short stalk. Leaflets are ½ to ¾ inch long, finely toothed except near the base, rounded at the tip, tapering at the base, and all stalkless. A pair of leafy appendages (stipules) at the leaf joint are oval-lance shaped and about as long as the leaf stalk. Stems are smooth or with fine flattened hairs; growth is semi-erect with branches spreading laterally.


Like many foreign introductions to Minnesota, Golden Clover may have been first introduced in the Port of Duluth. Now very common along the northshore drive in St. Louis county, it is also becoming more common along transportation corridors into east central parts of the state. It is very similar in appearance to Low Hop Clover (Trifolium campestre), a shorter stature plant that has a very distinct stalk on the middle leaflet.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Goose Garden

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and in Cass County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in St. Louis and Cass counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.