Arizona Naturalists >>> Sycamore Gallery Flora >>> Fabaceae >>> Melilotus officinalis

Yellow Sweet Clover

Melilotus officinalis

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed on the campus of Northern Arizona University, Coconino Co., Arizona. Sept. 2009. The spike at right center bears several one-seeded bean pods.

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FLOWERS: Small (about 5 mm) yellow pea-flowers in short, terminal spikes. M. albus with white flowers is very similar and consider conspecific by many botanists. Yellow-flowered version seems to be less attractive to butterflies and bees.

LEAVES: Leaves are usually pinnately compound with three leaflets the margins of which are lightly serrate.

PERENNIAL HERB: Entirely herbaceous above ground from a perennial root stock. Most plants when mature are knee to shoulder height with quite a number of upright stems from the root stock.

RANGE: Common across much of North Amercia in moist habitat. In Arizona's sycamore woodlands it tends to occur on partially shaded terraces not far from the water's edge. It is native to Eurasia and has been distributed World-wide by human activities.

FRUIT: Small, indehiscent bean-pods with just a single bean.


Fabaceae -- Bean Family

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Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
The Flora of Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010