Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Trifolium gracilentum, Pinpoint Clover

Pinpoint Clover has pink to reddish purple flowers. The flowering stem is an umbel with 3 or more flowers. Trifolium gracilentumPinpoint Clover flowers are strongly reflexed after blooming and often turned to the side. The fruits are indehiscent legumes meaning that the fruits do not open at maturity. Trifolium gracilentumPinpoint Clover flowers bloom from March to May or June. Fruiting follows shortly thereafter. Trifolium gracilentumPinpoint Clover leaves are green, palmately compound. The leaflets are obovate to obcordate with acute teeth. The tips are shallowly notched, and the leaves are mostly smooth. Trifolium gracilentumPinpoint Clover is a member of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family and is found along the west coast of the United States, Arizona northwestern Mexico. This species prefers open, disturbed areas, moist or dry areas and grassy areas near the ocean. Trifolium gracilentum

Scientific Name: Trifolium gracilentum
Common Name: Pinpoint Clover

Also Called: Pin-Point Clover, Slender Clover, Southern Island Clover

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: (Trifolium gracilentum var. gracilentum, Trifolium gracilentum var. inconspicuum)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: 3 to 12 inches or more (7.6 to 30.4 cm).

Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems and vegetation are mostly glabrous or slightly hairy; plants prostrate to erect.

Leaves: Green; palmately compound; leaflets, obovate to obcordate, teeth acute, tip shallowly notched, leaves mostly glabrous.

Flower Color: Pink to reddish purple, purple in age, recurved; inflorescence an umbel, 3 to many flowers often turned to the side, flowers strongly reflexed after blooming, generally turned to side, fruit an indehiscent legume, seeds 1 or 2.

Flowering Season: March to May or June

Elevation: 2,500 to below 6,000 feet (762 to below 1800 m)

Habitat Preferences: Open, disturbed areas, moist or dry areas, grassy areas near the ocean.

Recorded Range: Trifolium gracilentum is found along the west coast of the United and Arizona. It is also native to northwestern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Trifolium gracilentum.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: 1Trifolium palmeri, as Southern Island Clove, is included in the California Native Plant Society's Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants as a Rare Plant Rank as a 4.2, a State Rank of S4, and a Global Rank G4.

1One variety of this species, var. palmeri, is a rare plant limited to the Channel Islands of California; it is sometimes treated as a species in its own right, Trifolium palmeri.[3]

Genus Information: In North America there are 172 species for Trifolium. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 244 accepted species names and as many names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 20 species of Trifolium genus, California has 60 species, Nevada has 21 species, New Mexico has 19 species, Texas has 15 species, Utah has 18 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

There are 2 varieties in Trifolium gracilentum;
Trifolium gracilentum var. gracilentum, Pinpoint Clover, (AZ, CA, OR, WA);
Trifolium gracilentum var. palmeri, Palmer's clover, (Channel Islands of CA).

Comments: In Southwest Desert Flora also see Tomcat Clover, Trifolium wildenovii.

The genus Trifolium is from the Latin meaning "three-leaved". The genus Trifolium was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
The species epithet gracilentum is from the Latin words gracile, slender, graceful and gracilenta, slender; a reference to its graceful slender stems.

Pinpoint Clover has been used for food by indigenous peoples of California.
  • Luiseno Food, Unspecified, Plant eaten both cooked and raw.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 11/21/2019
    Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 11/20/2019) for genus Trifolium.
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11/09/2019).
    Michael A. Vincent & Duane Isely 2012, Trifolium gracilentum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on November 19, 2019.
    'Trifolium gracilentum', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 October 2019, 05:13 UTC, [accessed 20 November 2019]
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 10/09/2019).
    California Native Plant Society, Rare Plant Program. 2019. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California (online edition, v8-03 0.39). Website [accessed 20 November 2019].
    ETYMOLOGY: Michael L. Charters; California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology; (accessed 11/20/2019)