By Mukhtar Ahmad:

Trifolium pratense, the red clover, is a herbaceous species of flowering plant in the bean family Fabaceae, native to Europe, Western Asia, and northwest Africa, but planted and naturalized in many other regions also. 
Red clover is a herb that belongs to the legume family, which also includes peas and beans.

In herbal medicine, red clover is typically used to treat respiratory issues, skin disorders, inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and women’s health problems.

Red clover’s brightly colored flowers contain many nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. They’re also a rich source of isoflavones. These are compounds that act as phytoestrogens—plant chemicals similar to the female hormone estrogen  Isoflavone extracts are touted as dietary supplements for high cholesterol and osteoporosis in addition to menopausal syndrome

Uses:
Red clover is used for cancer prevention, indigestion, high cholesterol, whooping cough, cough, asthma, bronchitis, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some women use it for symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes; for breast pain or tenderness (mastalgia); and for premenstrual syndrome. It is a perennial plant, grown widespread and cultivated as a forage grass in many countries. Red clover prefers grasslands and wet meadows, where it grows up to 50 centimeters in height, producing spikes of purple-red color.

Red clover can also be used as a cover crop that provides many benefits such as fixing nitrogen (N) to meet needs of the following crop, protecting soil from erosion, improving soil tilth, competing with weeds, as well as supplying forage needs.

Soil:
It prefers a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.2. There are two types of red clover: medium red and mammoth red clover. Medium red is most common. It is quicker to establish than mammoth and grows back well after it is cut.

It is widely grown as a  fodder crop, best nitrogen fixation which increases soil fertility. Of late Red clover, tea has been introduced in the market, which has good response. Medically it is found a cure for several diseases.

If cultivated for commercial purposes in the valley, it can add a lot to farmers income without any expenditure.

(Author can be reached at mir886dmh@gmail.com)

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