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Published In: Species Plantarum 2: 766. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/29/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Native


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Trifolium reflexum L. (buffalo clover)

Pl. 410 a, b; Map 1817

Plants annual or more commonly biennial, taprooted. Stems 20–50 cm long, loosely to strongly ascending, not rooting at the lower nodes, unbranched or few branched toward the base, glabrous to densely short-hairy. Leaves long-petiolate toward the stem base, somewhat reduced toward the tip, the longest petioles to 65 mm long, 3–4 times as long as the leaflets. Stipules shorter than the associated petiole, broadly ovate, fused nearly to the midpoint and somewhat sheathing the stem, the free portions angled or tapered at the tips, herbaceous and leaflike, the margins entire or toothed. Leaflets 10–30(–45) mm long, 6–20(–25) mm wide, all sessile or nearly so, ovate to obovate, angled at the base, broadly rounded to sharply pointed at the tip, the margins sharply toothed. Inflorescences 20–35(–40) mm long and wide, dense globose umbels, the stalk 20–60(–80) mm long. Flowers 10–40, the stalk 4–8 mm long at flowering, elongating to 7–12(–15) mm and becoming sharply reflexed at fruiting. Calyces 4–9 mm long, the tube 1.0–1.5 mm long, glabrous to densely hairy, the teeth narrowly triangular to linear, 3–5 times as long as the tube, nearly equal, lacking a prominent network of nerves and not becoming inflated at fruiting. Corollas 8–14 mm long, longer than the calyx lobes, white to cream-colored or occasionally deep pink, the banner outcurved, oblong to elliptic, bluntly and broadly pointed to rounded or shallowly notched at the tip and with an entire or more commonly somewhat irregular margin, finely but relatively strongly parallel-nerved with age. Fruits 3–5 mm, ovoid to oblong-obovoid, minutely stalked, (1)2–4-seeded. Seeds 1.0–1.5 mm long, more or less globose, pale yellow, sometimes with darker mottling, dull and finely pebbled. 2n=16. May–August.

Scattered widely in the state, but absent from most of the Mississippi Lowlands Division and most of the western portion of the Glaciated Plains (eastern U.S. west to Nebraska and Texas; Canada). Upland prairies, glades, openings and edges of bottomland to mesic and dry upland forests, savannas, banks of streams, and margins of ponds, lakes, and oxbows; also pastures, ditches, and roadsides.

Populations of this species often appear at sites after a burn, heavy logging, or some equally severe disturbance, and they also occur along logging roads. Without continued disturbance, plants usually disappear after a few years, but remain in the soil seed bank. According to N. L. Taylor et al. (1994), although plants are routinely visited by bees and other insects, buffalo clover is mostly self pollinated.

Steyermark (1963) and some other authors have recognized two varieties (the hairy var. reflexum, and the more glabrous var. glabrum Lojac.), but the pubescence character is variable, with the more glabrous forms most common in the northeastern part of the range. Both types of plants, as well as apparent intermediates, are present in Missouri, and glabrous and pubescent plants may grow intermingled in some populations.



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