Melilotus officinalis

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Legend for Species Pages

Yellow Sweetclover

Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam.


Medicago officinalis (L.) E.H.L.Krause

Melilotus arenarius Grecescu

Melilotus arvensis Wallr.

Melilotus melilotus-officinalis Asch. & Graebn.

Melilotus neglectus Ten.

Melilotus pallidus Ser.

Melilotus petitpierreanus Willd.

Trifolium melilotus officinalis L.

Trifolium melilotus-officinalis L.

Trifolium officinale L.


[1] Link to USDA Forest Service, note on the taxonomy of Melilotus alba & M. officinalis - "...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 – No
  • NatureServe Rank – Medium
  • 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


At one time, Sweetclovers were widely cultivated for nitrogen fixation and forage production. Very similar to M. alba, but possibly more aggressive. Seems to expand in "flushes" as the seeds in the soil germinate in wetter years, producing many new plants and seeds, which may then stay dormant in the soil until the next favorable year. Habitats that seem most susceptible to invasion are those usually kept open by natural disturbance such as badlands and riparian areas.

[2] Link to USDA Plants Profile for Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam.

[3] Link to USDA Plants Characteristics for Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam.

[4] Link to NatureServe I-Rank info for Melilotus officinalis

[5] Link to Missouri Department of Conservation, Vegetation Management Guideline, White and Yellow Sweet Clover, Melilotus alba Medic. and Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pallas

Edible: see Melilotus alba

Dry prairie overtaken by Sweetclover
Sweetclovers spread from roadsides into adjacent vegetation
yellow sweetclover, Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam
white sweetclover, Melilotus alba Medik.