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British Marine Life Study Society
Seaside Flora

    Starry Clover
Common Name(s):
  Starry Clover
Scientific Name:
  Trifolium stellatum
Usual Size:  cm 
               Photograph by Andy Horton.
Flowers in June on the shingle of Shoreham Beach, its only location in the British Isles. This small naturalised ground plant has been known from this area for two centuries (discovered in 1804).
Another pic, by David Wood.

Unto the Hills
The History and Wildlife of the South Downs
by Patrick Coulcher
(Foreword by Denis Healey)
ISBN 1-85776 - 586 - 9

Extract from the chapter "The Adur to the Arun"
The Starry Clover is the real gem of this important site. This clover has short stems and soft hairy leaves and the small white flowers which bloom in May and June are held together in rounded heads and each is surrounded by a crimson star-shaped calyx. When in fruit the flower heads with their white soft hairs, look even more like clusters of stars against the backdrop of beach pebbles. The whole plant is prostrate and forms large mats on the upper beach. Starry Clover has been known on this site since early in the nineteenth century and is believed to have entered Shoreham Harbour in the ballast of ships returning from the Mediterranean. If you have not seen this plant before it may take you some time to spot it for the first time, but once you have 'got your eye in' you should easily find the places where it grows.

3 June 2018

29 May 2016

Trifolium scabrum

Trifolium stellatum

1 June 2014


Starry Clover showing the leaves

Similar species: 
Shoreham Beach only. On shingle near the Old Fort. 
Previously known from Dartford, Tilbury, Clacton, Harlow Mills (Essex).

Additional Notes:
A desert plant, that has been killed in large numbers by flooding by fresh water, when the small plant has invaded gardens from the shingle, either deliberately or accidentally. 

1 July 2010
A small Field Grasshopper hopped amongst amongst the late flowering patch of Starry Clover near the Old Fort. 

7 June 2010
I stumbled over a small patch of Starry Clover in flower on a south-facing bank near the Old Fort car park. 

July 2007
I have discovered Starry Clover growing in my garden at 58 Riverside Road, Shoreham Beach. I know it used to grow at my mother's house at 49 Riverside Road but it was killed off by flooding river water.  Other nearby locations have been "developed".

Report by Tony Watson

Information wanted: Please send any records of this plant, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to 
Shorewatch Project EMail 
All messages will receive a reply. 
Shorewatch Project

Seashore Page
Shingle Coast  (Coastal Fringe of Shoreham Beach)
Shoreham-by-Sea Page


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