Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Running Buffalo Clover - Harder to Find Than a Four-leafed Clover
Midwest Region, June 5, 2014
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finding the federally endangered running buffalo clover
finding the federally endangered running buffalo clover - Photo Credit: sknowles.usfws
People learning about and working towards recovery and management of the species in Indiana
People learning about and working towards recovery and management of the species in Indiana - Photo Credit: sknowles/usfws

On May 29, 2014 representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Indiana and Ohio, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Hidden Valley Lake Natural Resources Task Force, and several other organizations surveyed one of the few known Midwest sites for this endangered species. PFW Biologist Knowles coordinated and conducted a field work day to assist with recovery of Running Buffalo clover (federally endangered species) and to discuss strategies to protect the existing population and discuss the potential of increasing the population in Hidden Valley Lake and Dearborn County and creating awareness of the species to potentially find new populations.

The day started at the HVL office with 10 people in attendance including USFWS Knowles, Geboy, Finfera, HNF/USDA Coon, SICIM Wardwell, IDNR Homoya, Larson and local botanists Boone, Becus and HVL woodland committee member Hartrmann. The population at HVL was found and counted. This population is declining and we discussed ideas on how to help restore it and we will work with the landowner once a plan of action is determined. The group then went to the County Farm Property and checked that site. HVL will put a news article in their newsletter to create awareness and we will continue to work to figure out best recovery course of actions.
Running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum) is a native clover that was added to the endangered species list in 1987.

It differs from other white clover species in the following ways:

  • RBC has two true triple leaflets on the flower stem while other clover has naked flower stems.
  • RBC only blooms in late May and early June while other clover blooms all season.
  • RBC has solid green leaves while other clovers have white chevrons on the leaves.
  • RBC has large stipules at ground level (outgrowths at the base of the leaf stem) while other clovers have none. This makes the RBC stems sturdier.
  • RBC is bigger than other clovers (but you can only tell this if they are near each other!)

As its name suggests, Running Buffalo Clover appears to have been most prevalent along animal trails where the ground was frequently disturbed. The periodic trampling of the grass seems to have been necessary disburse the seeds and help them germinate. They are found primarily in areas where the bedrock is composed of limestone rocks like we have here.

Contact Info: Susan Knowles, (812) 522-4352, Susan_Knowles@fws.gov
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