Melilotus albus

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Legend for Species Pages

White Sweetclover

Melilotus albus Medik.


Synonyms

Melilotus alba Medik. (Spelling variant)

Melilotus argutus Rchb.

Melilotus leucanthus DC.

Melilotus melanospermus Ser.

Melilotus vulgaris Willd.


Common names

sweetclover, Bokhara-clover, honey-clover, melilot


Taxonomy

[1] Link to USDA Forest Service note on the taxonomic relationship between Melilotus officinalis and M. alba - "...While some systematists treat white sweetclover (Melilotus alba) Medik. and yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) (L.) Lam. as distinct species ([116,231], Isely 1990 cited in [48]), others suggest they are not distinct and recognize only one species, Melilotus officinalis ([256], van der Meyden personal communication cited in [268]). Other systematists suggest recognizing both species, since they have been identified as such for over 200 years [268], and Barneby [11] reports that the 2 species are genetically incompatible..."


  • Moss, Flora of Alberta – Common
  • Global Invasive Species Database – Yes
  • NatureServe Rank – No
  • Haber, Upland – Moderate
  • Haber, Wetland – No
  • CWF, Status & Invasive Range – Low, BC, SK, AB, MB, ON, QC, NF
  • Alberta Revegetation Guidelines – Invasive agronomic: invasive in dry prairie, persistent elsewhere
  • The Nature Conservancy – Yes, w/ ESA
  • CBCN – Low
  • AB Weed – No


Remarks

At one time, Sweetclovers were widely cultivated for nitrogen fixation and forage production. They are little used as forage, since they contain coumarin, which converted by mold becomes dicoumarol, an anticoagulant, which sometimes caused death of livestock consuming silage or hay made from them.

Edible: flowers and leaves can be used to make tea, leaves can be eaten raw or boiled, seeds can be added to stews or soups for flavor, dried crushed leaves give baked goods a vanilla-like flavor, and flowers and fruits are used to flavor cheese


[2] Link to Wikipedia, Melilotus albus - "...White sweet clover is native to Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America in the 17th century for cattle forage purposes and is now widespread throughout Canada and the United States, where it has become invasive and can outcompete native plant species. White sweet clover can grow up to 2 meters in height and can produce abundant amounts of seeds that readily float and disperse in water. This has allowed the plant to colonize natural habitat such as riparian areas all across much of North America..."


[3] Link to USDA Plants Profile for Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam. (profile includes M. albus)


[4] Link to bugwood.org, profile for Melilotus albus


[5] Link to ISSG Global Invasive Species Database entry for Melilotus alba (Medikus)


White Sweetclover, Melilotus albus Medik.
White Sweetclover, Melilotus albus Medik.
Yellow sweetclover, Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pall.


References

Kershaw, Linda, Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies ISBN 1-55105-229-6 Wikipedia, Coumarin [6]