Big Head Clover - Trifolium macrocephalum

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14
Big Head Clover - Trifolium macrocephalum

When I lived in the Seattle Washington area, it was a mere 2 hour drive to get up into the dry Wenatchee Mts (a spur off the Cascades), where there was lots of Lewisia tweedyi in some strong yellow and peachy-yellow shades (the guys at Grand Ridge Nursery found forms that were yellow strongly tinged red).  From there we'd move along to another area, and my wife and I would go "rediviva" spotting, along with Fritillaria pudica, Sisyrinchium douglasii, eriogonums and penstemons... all the good stuff, and astragali too, but the most memorable plant is Trifolium macrocephalum; dwarf but with enormous heads in orange shades rather than the more typical pink, but nearly ungrowable as I've tried it.  In the first link, the flowers are salmon color, but not quite as orange sunset-hued as the plants I remember in the Wenatchees. Does anyone grow this successfully.

http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=trma3_003_ahp.tif

...excellent photo essay here:
http://wolves.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/big-head-clover-trifolium-macroce...

...another excellent photo essay here:
http://science.halleyhosting.com/nature/gorge/5petal/pea/trifolium/bighe...

gorgeous bright pink-flowered specimen on CalPhotos
http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+0508+1561

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Wow, I wish I could say that I do grow it, but I have not tried it.  Spectacular!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

McGregorUS
McGregorUS's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-12-18

We're all hoping someone grows it and will put seed into the seed exchange - stunning plant.

Malcolm McGregor
Global Moderator/NARGS Editor
East Yorkshire, UK

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

I found the following link, a fellow that lives in Washington State's Columbia Basin (Ellensburg) and has offered seed for sale of plants from the area.  The web page is for 2008, thus outdated, and the seed availability for Trifolium macrocephalum says "sold out".  Judging from the home page, it appears that he will collect seed by request, if in fact, he's still in business.

http://www.ispcowboy.com/aws/DisplayListing.asp?ListType=F

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

It's available from Alplains, along with a number of other exquisite Trifolium.
http://www.alplains.com/

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Mark
The populations around Reno are the pink ones, the orange colored population you describe sound great. I am trying again this year to move it into the garden. I dug some runners early in April, they still have a few green leaves at this time. I have my fingers crossed that they root. I have tried to move them several times in the past to no avail.
It is hard to get good starts as the grow in very rocky soil. The roots run but also send down deep taproots.

I do grow one species of western dry land Trifolium. Trifolium andersonii

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

So Trifolium macrocephalum is rhizomatous, then?  Not too rambunctious, though, I trust?

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

In their native dry habitat they run moderately you will find shoots popping up about every six to eight inches apart. They do not put out a lot of top growth maybe three or four stems, about  four to five inches long sprawling out across the soil surface. Leaves are the typical clover shape with pale green chevrons over laying the darker green leaf surface. The leaves are spaced about an inch apart along the stems. I would describe it as a moderately rhizomatous, slow spreading, open ground cover, for a dry sight.  I do not think it would become ramped in a dry sight doubt it would survive a very moist environment, at least I have never seen it growing in one. It is found growing with Lewisia rediviva, Viola beckwithii,  Astragalus purshii, and Phlox stansburyi.

I hope I will be able to tell you more next year. I planted it away from choice alpines on a bare slope just to play it safe.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Hatchett
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-05-06

These dryland trifoliums are a favorite of mine. We have, not for from here, a trifolium called Trifolium Owyheense. It used to be lumped with macrocephalum but was deemed a true species, which is most certainly valid. It has been considered for listing as endangered since the entire population occurs in one drainage that straddles the Idaho/Oregon border in the Owhyhee uplands. On top of that this clover only grows in a very specific ash layer that is snow white and has few plant species growing in it  the layer is exposed in a few places by erosion of a small creek. The Idaho population is all in one spot of a few hundred square yards with maybe 100 plants total. The Oregon population is disjunct,  occurring in the same ash layer several miles from the Idaho population the Oregon population is larger than the Idaho population, still not many plants. Here is a picture from my garden of this plant:

Jim

Jim Hatchett
Eagle, Idaho Zone 3?
Elevation  2600', Annual precipitation 11" avg.

Against boredom even the gods struggle in vain"
Friedrich Nietzsche

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Thanks Jim, for showing us this interesting (and attractive) and apparently very rare dryland clover species, and for providing the background information.  It is a species that I'm not familiar with, so I googled and found some more info.  One thing I learned from the PDF link below is that T. macrocephalum has 5-8 leaflets, and owyheense has just 3 leaflets.

zoomable herbarium specimen, if you want to see what it's doing underground:
http://oregondigital.org/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/herbarium&CISOPTR=1...

The status of T. owyheense in Idaho
https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/idnhp/cdc_pdf/u01man08.pdf

photo:
http://www.larkspurbooks.com/fabaceae2.html

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Jim

Great to hear from you about this rare Trifolium. It is a shame that it's habitat in Idaho is threatened. I hope the authorities midigate the situation with the mining interests.

It looks like a choice little clover. I like the flower rich color.

Great to see your post Jim and welcome back from your trip.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

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