Three Leaves For Luck

Red Clover
Red Clover

I came across this Red Clover yesterday. We’d just been talking about how Darwin found that the field mice eat the bumble bees nests and if you had cats around that eat the field mice then the Red Clover prospered – leading him to assume that the bumble bee pollenised the Red Clover.

So, I prodded Google and told him to wake up and go and have a look to see if there were any medical uses for our plant. Well, it turns out that it was used medicinally in days when most prescriptions were filled by the apothecary or local wise woman – but it wasn’t a top tier cure. There were, I gather, other more popular herbs.

It has suddenly become very much sought after and you can now buy it as pills – which saves you the bother of having to venture into the nasty smelly countryside to pick-your-own. However, it isn’t good for just any one and can have serious side effects if it is taken with some modern drugs and supplements – things our apothecary had never heard of.     “It is metabolized by CYP3A4” says Wikipedia – whatever that means. So I looked up CYP3A4 – it’s in your liver and it’s part all the things that you’d expect to be going on in there.

Do you remember, a few years back there was a sudden panic. Someone found out that the world’s favourite breakfast drink – grapefruit juice (suitably mangled by the food industry) – had a strange effect on some medications? Well it’s this CYP3A4 thingy that works with the grapefruit juice to the detriment of the pharmaceutical industry.

So no Red Clover for breakfast then.

In The Clover

White Clover
White Clover

Where the ‘Man With the Mower’ has been round and cut the verges nice and short, we find those who prefer not to have to stand on tip-toe to be able to watch the passing traffic. Buttercups and Dandelions will stick their flowers out of the top of a dense bank of grass, nettles and Wild Carrots – if they have to, but they are not really happy with looking down from that height and are more content to stick a flower on the end of a short stalk at the side of the road where it has been tidily mown. Daisies too, revel in being able to stick their elbows out.

Clover is another plant that is pleased to have the chance to vote for greater openness in the biosphere. Like the Daisy, it also feels that the trade off, being mown or eaten – against being able to feel the wind in your hair, is well worth the sacrifice. As soon as our road-side reaper has loaded his mower on the back of his truck and driven off, one of the Dandelions, Buttercups, Daisies or Clover will pop their heads up, have a look around and sound the All Clear.

Clover is edible, by humans as well as livestock, but wimpy humans don’t digest it very well. Luckily, our ancestors figured out ages ago, that this sort of problem is easily resolved by cooking the stuff, a quick boil – and munch away. Meanwhile, back in the US of A, the Delaware and Algonkian people used an infusion of Clover to treat coughs and colds

I wonder what the Delaware and Algonkian words for “Bless You!” are?