Please remember that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter and all of the information is presented as trivia and any trivia concerning herbalism should not be mistaken for an endorsement of treatment.
Hop Clover is one of the plants that I have not personally experimented with. That’s mostly because I have not really encountered it after becoming interested enough in foraging and herbalism to actually pursue it beyond reading books. And partly because I had mistaken it for Black Medic. Now Black Medic is listed as an edible plant but it’s mostly the roasted seeds that are used. There’s also some concerns that Black Medic might have some side effects that are detrimental to people with certain medical conditions as it is thought to cause blood clots.
Once I had learned that Hop Clover exists and so closely resembles Black Medic I really struggled to distinguish between the two using just a few photos and the internet.
The biggest reason why I settled on Hop Clover as a positive ID was the lack of bur like structure on the tips of the leaves and that the overall shape of the leaves is more oval where Black Medic leaves are blunted except for bur on the very tip.
Now that we’ve established the identity as Hop Clover what’s it good for? Well, the seeds are used to make flour in the same manner as Black Medic but Hop Clover goes beyond that in also being useful as a pot herb. Online resources say that the leaves are edible raw but the flavor of the cooked herb us more pleasant if it’s cooked. The bright yellow flowers are added to teas. I expect that being legumes they would be rich in protein. However it is said that they’re not as sweet as the more familiar clovers.
One last warning before I close this week’s Forage Friday post. There is a toxic look alike that is often mistaken for Black Medic and therefore Hop Clover. Wild Indigo. The main thing that separates Wild Indigo is that it as larger flowers. I have not encountered Wild Indigo at this time so I don’t have a photo to share.
My takeaway for tonight is that the devil is in the details. The visual difference between Hop Clover and Black Medic is very subtle. Both are listed as edibles but one is far more useful than the other and in the case of Black Medic may be dangerous if you’re medically concerned about blood clots.
Image Titled “Hop Clover 62020b”.
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