Sweet clover

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Sweet clover
White sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

White sweet clover ( Melilotus albus )

Eurosiden I
Order : Fabales (Fabales)
Family : Legumes (Fabaceae)
Subfamily : Butterflies (Faboideae)
Tribe : Trifolieae
Genre : Sweet clover
Scientific name

Sweet clover ( Melilotus , too) sweet clover called, is a plant genus that to the subfamily of Pea (Faboideae) within the family of legumes belongs (Fabaceae). The 20 or so species are common in Eurasia .

Description and ecology

Yellow sweet clover ( Melilotus officinalis ), illustration
White sweet clover seeds ( Melilotus albus )

Sweet clover species are herbaceous plants that are annual to two years . The alternate and spirally arranged leaves are divided into a petiole and a leaf blade. The leaf blade imparipinnate contains only three pinna leaflet . The edges of the leaflets are serrated. The stipules are fused with the petiole.

The flowers are in axillary, unbranched, racemose inflorescences together. There are only tiny bracts . The stalked, hermaphrodite flowers are zygomorphic and five-fold with a double flower envelope . The five sepals are fused bell-shaped. The more or less unequal calyx teeth are significantly shorter than the corolla tube. The five yellow or white petals stand together in the typical shape of the butterfly flower . The boat, which has grown together from two petals, is shorter than the two wings. Nine of the ten fertile stamens are mutually-tube grown together with like-faceted anthers . There is only one upper carpel with one to five ovules . The stylus is thin. The pollination is effected by Hymenoptera , mostly by bees ( Entomophilie ).

The small legume is about as long as the calyx and contains one to four seeds. The fruit or the seed serves as a diaspore (unit of distribution).

Two inflorescences and leaves of the white sweet clover ( Melilotus albus )
High sweet clover ( Melilotus altissimus )
Small-flowered sweet clover ( Melilotus indicus )


The genus Melilotus was established by Philip Miller in 1754 . The genus Melilotus belongs to the tribe Trifolieae in the subfamily of the butterflies (Faboideae) within the family of the legumes (Fabaceae).

Most of the species are found from the Mediterranean to Central Asia .

The genus includes about 20 (up to 25) species:

The following are no longer included in this category:


Three species are of agricultural importance: white, yellow and Indian sweet clover. In the field, sweet clover is used as a pasture plant , especially as a bee pasture and for green manure . Hay or silage is made from cut sweet clover . The coumarin released during the drying of the plants gives the hay the typical hay smell, or it smells of woodruff. On the other hand, rotten hay and poorly preserved silage contain dicumarol , a breakdown product of coumarin ; Dicoumarol is toxic to livestock and causes external and internal bleeding.

The real or yellow sweet clover prefers stony locations. The aboveground plant parts of the sweet clover ( Melilotus officinalis ), which are collected during the flowering period, are used medicinally , but also the herb of the sweet clover ( Melilotus altissima ), which can be found in rather humid places (meadows).


Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Melilotus in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t data sheet at International Legume Database Information Service = ILDIS - LegumeWeb - World Database of Legumes , Version 10.38 from July 20, 2010.
  3. ^ AD Alstad, HH Casper, LJ Johnson: Vitamin K treatment of sweet clover poisoning in calves , J. of Am. Vet. Med. As. 1985 , 187 (7) , 729-731

Web links

Commons : Sweet Clover ( Melilotus )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files