Trifolium subterraneum L. Subterranean Clover
Sp.Pl. 2:767 (1753)

Conservation Code: Not threatened
Naturalised Status: Alien to Western Australia
Name Status: Current

Brief Description
Amanda Spooner, Thursday 23 August 2007

Prostrate, spreading annual, herb, to 0.35 m high, to 0.4 m wide. Fl. white-pink, Aug to Nov. Grey-brown sandy loam, ironstone gravel, laterite. Around wetlands, old gravel pits,parklands, pastureland, cultivated areas.


Beard’s Provinces: South-West Province.

IBRA Regions: Avon Wheatbelt, Esperance Plains, Geraldton Sandplains, Jarrah Forest, Mallee, Swan Coastal Plain, Warren.

IBRA Subregions: Avon Wheatbelt P1, Avon Wheatbelt P2, Dandaragan Plateau, Fitzgerald, Geraldton Hills, Lesueur Sandplain, Northern Jarrah Forest, Perth, Southern Jarrah Forest, Warren, Western Mallee.

IMCRA Regions: WA South Coast.

Local Government Areas (LGAs): Albany, Augusta Margaret River, Beverley, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Broomehill-Tambellup, Bunbury, Busselton, Capel, Carnamah, Collie, Coorow, Cranbrook, Cunderdin, Dandaragan, Denmark, Donnybrook-Balingup, Dowerin, Dumbleyung, Esperance, Gingin, Gnowangerup, Goomalling, Greater Geraldton, Harvey, Kalamunda, Kojonup, Kondinin, Koorda, Lake Grace, Manjimup, Merredin, Mundaring, Murray, Narrogin, Nedlands, Northam, Perth, Plantagenet, Quairading, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, South Perth, Swan, Toodyay, Wagin, Wickepin, Williams, Wongan-Ballidu, Wyalkatchem, York.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)
Kate Brown and Karen Bettink, Monday 26 August 2019

Alternative Names. Subclover, Old Subterranean Clover.

General Biology. Growth form. Herb. Life form. Annual. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Planted for pasture, contaminated hay, sheep (on fleece), other agricultural activities.

Notes. The most commonly sown pasture legume in Australia. Adapted to Mediterranean climates, typified by hot dry summers and moist, mild winters with annual rainfall of 350-1200 mm. Sensitive to salinity and prefers high soil fertility. Has hard seed coats and low germination rates in unsuitable environmental conditions. Germinates in autumn with main growth occurring during autumn to spring. Produces prolific seed. Seed can remain dormant for several years, enabling plants to compensate for years of low seed production. Fluctuating daily temperatures reduce seed-coat impermeability. Highly tolerant to grazing. Grazing of burrs by sheep during summer reduces seed banks.

Additional information. History of use/introduction. Forage. Similar exotic species. Trifolium spp.

Suggested method of management and control. Spot spray with 1% glyphosate before flowering, otherwise spot spray Lontrel® 3 ml/10L (150 ml/ha) up to 6 leaf stage. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Germination         Y Y Y            
Active Growth         Y Y Y Y Y Y Y    
Flowering               Y Y Y Y    
Fruiting                   Y Y Y  
Optimum Treatment         O Y Y O          

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



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  • Rossiter, R.C. & Collins, W.J. (1998) Genetic diversity in Old Subterranean Clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) populations in Western Australia. I. pastures sown initially to the Dwalganup strain. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 39 (6): 1051 - 1062.
  • Thomas, B.D. & Bowman, W.D. (1998) Influence of N2-fixing Trifolium on plant species composition in the alpine tundra. Oecologia, 115 (1/2): 26-31.

Project information and acknowledgements