Scientific Name: Melilotus officinalis

Common Name: sweet clover

Other Common Names: yellow sweetclover, white sweetclover

Synonyms: Melilotus alba, Melilotus albus, Melilotus arvensis, Melilotus leucanthu, Melilotus lutea

Habit: Seedlings have oblong cotyledons, green underneath and whitish-green on the top. Plants can reach 8 ft tall. Stems are branched and roots penetrate deep in to the soil.

Leaves: Leaves are compound with three club-shaped leaflets 1/2-1 in long. Leaf bases have small papery attachments.

Identifying Characteristics: Sweet scent, white pea like flowers and compound leaves with 3 leaflets. White sweet clover is toxic to livestock and seeds are a serious contaminant of cereal grains. This species is also an alternate host to several diseases i.e. beet curly top, aster yellows pea mosaic, pea mottle, bean yellow mosaic, and tobacco streak.

Flower Seed Head: Found in the leaf axils and on the ends of branches, flowers are white and fragrant. Flowers are arranged along a stem 2-6 in long with 40-80 flowers in each cluster. Flowers are much like those of cultivated peas.

Seed Fruit: Fruit are smooth pods black to dark gray in color containing one or two seeds. Seeds are 2.5 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, kidney-shaped, and yellow in color.

Where Found: Found throughout the United States and Canada. White sweet clover is often found in waste areas and roadsides.

  • Life cycle: biennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Fabaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: oval; round

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire; serrated; wavy

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: white; yellow

  • Growth habit: upright and nonwoody

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: trifoliate

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower symmetry: radial symetery

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Root structure: taproot

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf