This is the second in an informal series on my footwear and flowers.
I first encountered this species along the Colockum Pass Road in Washington, but it was in the late evening and I didn’t take any images. I knew I wanted to see it again, though, and photograph it. The second time was in northeastern Oregon near La Grande, where I encountered a large population, but all the plants were in fruit. Third time is the charm they say, and a stop along Forest Service Road 3500 near Ellensburg, Washington in mid-May of last year finally resulted in a photograph. That’s not to say I had a lot of opportunity to photograph these plants; the echoes of gunshots originating from the other side of the hill dissuaded me from sticking around too long. I generally like peace and quiet while photographing.
The specific epithet macrocephalum translates to “large” and “head”, so it is fitting that this species is commonly known as either largehead clover or big-head clover. I’m uncertain as to whether it has the largest inflorescence of any of the 250 or so species of Trifolium, but it does deserve the name. The inflorescence of the photographed plant is a bit smaller overall than those I observed in northeast Oregon–the Oregon inflorescences were about the size of a large lime, and more than double the size of any other species of clover than I’ve encountered to-date.
This population of plants in Washington also had fewer plants in any given area than the population from northeast Oregon. I suspect if I were to catch the northeastern Oregon population in full flower, it would look something like this: Trifolium macrocephalum (featured in the weblog The Wildlife News). Trifolium macrocephalum is native to dry regions of northwestern continental USA, where its preferred habitat is open shallow-soiled rocky areas, or lithosols. Additional photographs are available via the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture: Trifolium macrocephalum.