Lesser trefoil is also known as yellow suckling clover and lesser hop trefoil. It is an annual weed that is a member of the clover family.
It is quite often mistaken for Black Medic Medicaga lupulina as they look very similar. The only real way of telling the difference between them is the seed pods of black medic turn black late in the growing season.
Lesser trefoil can be a serious problem in all types of lawns as it can easily tolerate a low height of cut. The weed spreads via a single taproot, as it forms a dense low growing mat over the surface of the lawn.
It is wise to eliminate this weed early, as it can spread very quickly. In recent years Lesser trefoil seems to becoming more widespread in managed turf.
The small clover like leaves each have 3 leaflets borne on short stalks. Under close examination you will notice that the leaves are slightly notched, but you will need keen eyesight notice. As previously mentioned they are very similar to the those of Black medic.
Lesser trefoil produces small yellow flowers that will eventually turn brown later in the year. The flowers that are self-pollinating are seen between June and October.
Although lesser trefoil or yellow suckling clover will grow on most soil types, it thrives on non-acidic, impoverished, nutrient deficient soils. It is often found on free draining, sandy soils.
Hand weed is the infestation is not too severe, take care to remove the roots.
Lightly rake into an upright position prior to mowing the lawn, this will help remove part of the plant thus weakening it.
Encourage a thick, healthy sward with good lawn care practices, ensure the lawn receives adequate nutrition.
A selective weed killer can be used to control lesser trefoil, sometimes a follow up application may be required (around 6 weeks after the initial treatment) for complete control.
Lesser trefoil images
Recommended herbicides for the control of lesser trefoil
Professional products (All operators must be trained and certificated in using and applying any Ministry Approved professional product)
- ICL Enforcer (2,4-D, Dicamba, Mecoprop-p, MCPA)
- ICL Praxys (Fluroxypyr, Clopyralid, Florasulam)
- Headland Quickfire (Mecoprop-p, Dicamaba)
- Hygrass-P (Dicamba, Mecoprop-p)
- Hysward-P (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba, MCPA)
- Bayer Longbow (MCPA, Dicamba, Mecoprop-p)
- Mascot Greenor (Fluroxpyr, Clopyralid, MCPA)
Products available for non-professional use (These products are available from garden centres and DIY stores and do not require any training or certification for use and application.)
- Weedol Concentrate (Fluroxypyr, Clopyralid, MCPA)
- Resolva Lawn Weed Killer (Mecoprop-p, Dicamba)
Tips for successful weed control using selective herbicides
- Treat weeds when growth is strong, this is usually in May and June.
- Don’t mow the lawn 3 days prior and 3 days after the treatment, to allow for maximum uptake of the chemical.
- Spray when the leaf/foliage is dry, as this reduces runoff and allows the chemical to stick to the weed.