Sunday, August 29, 2010

White Sweetclover (Melilotus alba)

Melilotus alba is known by the common names White Sweetclover, White Melilot. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database, Melilotus alba is now included in the species Melilotus officinalis (Yellow Sweetclover). Melilotus alba grows widely in this area.

At a distance, Melilotus alba and Lespedeza cuneata plants look very similar and a closer inspection may be required to identify the plant. Melilotus alba blooms are ‘concentrated’ along the upper section of a stem bare of leaves; Lespedeza cuneata blooms occur evenly along the stem in leaf axils. Melilotus alba flowers are pure white (with no pink) compared with those of Lespedeza cun
eata which have purple accents.

The plant first appears as a single stem…

Then multiple stems develop to produce a ‘bushy’ plant.

The blooms develop individually along the stem.

A close up of the flowers.

Melilotus officinalis
(Yellow Sweetclover) is native to Eurasia and grows throughout the United States and Canada.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Melilotus officinalis (Yellow Sweetclover)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Melilotus alba

Identification resources:

- Southeastern Flora: White Sweetclover (Melilotus alba)

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Melilotus alba

- Missouri Plants: Melilotus alba

Related posts:
- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

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