The healing power of wound clover

Trefoil is a perennial plant and a host plant for two butterflies; the dwarf blue and the clover blue often suck its nectar. Bumblebees and dragonflies also love the plant. Even though it is a perennial plant, it sometimes does not last more than a year in the same place. This beautiful plant with a growth height of five to forty centimeters has yellow and sometimes orange flowers that bloom from May to September. Horse trefoil belongs to the legume family that has the property of connecting their root nodules with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. For this reason, all plants from the legume family promote soil fertility. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of wound clover / Source: Carl Axel Magnus Lindman, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Distribution and growth environment
  • Naming
  • Clover for wounds
  • Tonic and laxative
  • Six fun facts about wound clover
  • Grow your own trefoil

Distribution and growth environment

In the Netherlands, the trefoil is a rare plant, but you sometimes see it in the dunes. It likes sandy soils and limestone soils. You see it from Iceland to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Netherlands to Iran. The southernmost place in Africa where the plant occurs is Ethiopia. Scientists are puzzled as to why woundwort is not described in ancient books. In Europe and North Africa, woundwort is mainly found in mountains up to 3000 meters altitude. It is an alpine herb but it also grows frequently in the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. You mainly see it on the edges of roads, near forests, railway embankments, sea cliffs and between stones and rocks.


The Latin name we use in science for wound trefoil is Anthyllis vulneraria . Vulneraria literally means ‘healer of wounds’. The first part of the Latin name is a combination of anthos, which means ‘blossom’ and ioulos which stands for ‘beard’. In Dutch, this plant is also called woundwort and yellow sand clover. The plant is called trefoil because in folk medicine it was used to heal wounds. In English the plant is called Common kidney vetch. In German they say Echter Wundklee to this medicinal plant.

Dragonfly on trefoil / Source: OhWeh, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-2.5)

If you want to collect trefoil yourself for medicinal reasons, pick it from May to August.

Clover for wounds

Clover contains xanthophyll, flavonoids, tannins or tannins and saponins or soap substances. These ensure that small cuts, scrapes and long-term wounds benefit from applying an ointment or decoction based on woundwort. The roots, leaves and flowers all have medicinal properties for wounds. The tannins and saponins ensure that the skin is produced faster. Woundwort can also help with bleeding wounds because the tannins have an astringent effect; this will cause blood to flow less freely from a cut. Woundwort can also be a solution for bruises.

Tonic and laxative

The plant is used internally as a tonic or tonic in the spring. Furthermore, it is a laxative; it can be used for blockage. You can drink a tea from the root, leaves or flowers to enjoy its healing abilities internally. This tea doesn’t taste great; it is a bit bitter. It smells better than it tastes. The bitter substances ensure better liver processing so that the overall transit in the intestines is accelerated. Because the liver works better, it is a tonic; more nutrients are absorbed from the food. The liver cleans the blood. Since liver function is stimulated by woundwort, this plant has a blood-cleansing effect.

Six fun facts about wound clover

  1. In the past, clover was placed in babies’ cradles to protect them from witches.
  2. Because it has deep roots, this plant is planted on mountain slopes where there is avalanche risk.
  3. Trefoil is a valued livestock forage crop.
  4. The flowers can be used to make your own herbal tea.
  5. The flowers of trefoil are often red throughout. According to the signature theory, this is a reference that it works against wounds. By the way, flowers often change color when they are pollinated.
  6. In 2001, a Polish research team discovered a new triterpene pentacyclide sapogenin, namely: 3beta,22beta,24-trihydroxy-olean-12-ene, which they named soyasapogenol B.

Flowering trefoil / Source: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

In folk medicine, woundwort is used as a wound remedy and as a cough remedy. There are substances in woundwort that reduce the coughing sensation. Clover is also used for laryngitis.

Grow your own trefoil

Trefoil can grow in both alkaline soil and slightly acidic soil. It can grow well in poor soil because it lives in a symbiosis with bacteria that produce exactly the right nutrients for it. He ensures that extra nitrogen is added to the soil, not only for himself but also for surrounding plants. You can scatter the seeds in the spring where you want the plant. Before sowing, it is wise to soak the seeds in water for twelve hours. If you do not have a lot of seeds, you can choose to grow the plants in individual pots.

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