Yellow Sweet Clover
Synonyms of Melilotus officinalis (44) (Updated on 5-17-21 from Plants of the World Online): Brachylobus officinalis (L.) Dulac, Medicago officinalis (L.) E.H.L.Krause, Melilotus armenus Boiss., Melilotus arvensis Wallr., Melilotus bungeanus Boiss., Melilotus citrinus Duval ex Steud., Melilotus diffusus W.D.J.Koch ex DC., Melilotus expansus Rchb., Melilotus flavus Pall., Melilotus kochianus DC., Melilotus longipedicellatus Rosbach, Melilotus lutescens Gilib., Melilotus luteus Gueldenst., Melilotus luxurians Shuttlew. ex Rouy & Foucaud, Melilotus macrorhizus Besser, Melilotus macrospermus K.Koch ex Boiss., Melilotus mauritanicus Willd., Melilotus maximus Legrand, Melilotus melilotus-officinalis (Crantz) Asch. & Graebn., Melilotus montanus Gaudin, Melilotus nebrodensis Jord. ex Nyman, Melilotus neglectus Ten., Melilotus officinalis var. maximus (Legrand) Kojic, Melilotus pallidus Besser, Melilotus paluster Menyh., Melilotus palustris (Waldst. & Kit.) Schult., Melilotus petitpierreanus Willd., Melilotus petitpierrianus Willd. ex Ces., Pass. & Gibelli, Melilotus rugosus Gilib., Melilotus virescens Jord., Sertula arvensis (Wallr.) Kuntze, Sertula bungeana (Boiss.) Kuntze, Sertula maior Lunell, Sertula officinalis (L.) Kuntze, Sertula pallida (Besser) Kuntze, Trifolium altissimum Loisel., Trifolium mauritianum Steud., Trifolium melilotus-mauritanicum Schousb., Trifolium melilotus-officinarum Crantz, Trifolium officinale L., Trifolium palustre Waldst. & Kit., Trifolium petitpierreanum Hayne, Trifolium vulgare Hayne, Trigonella officinalis (L.) Coulot & Rabaute
Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam. is the corrected accepted scientific name for the Yellow Sweet Clover. It was described as such by Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck in Flore Françoise in 1779. It was first named Trifolium officinale by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Melilotus officinalis was first named by Peter (Pyotr) Simon von Pallas in 1776, but for some reason his description was invalid (“nom. inval.”) (Melilotus officinalis Pall., Reise Russ. Reich. 3: 537 (1776), nom. inval.).
The genus, Melilotus (L.) Mill., was named and described as such by Philip Miller in The Gardeners Dictionary in 1754. It was first listed as Trifolium sect. Melilotus by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of the first volume of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 23 species in the Melilotus genus (as of 5-17-21 when I last updated this page). It is a member of the plant family Fabaceae with 767 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
The above distribution map for Melilotus officinalis is from Plants of the World Online. Obviously, the species has a much broader range in North America, but I wanted to share this map to show where the species is native. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced.
POWO gets some of their maps for the United States and Canada from Flora of North America for families recognized on that site. When I wrote this page FNA had not yet included genera from the plant family Fabaceae. The editor of POWO said they would start using maps from the USDA Plants Database for families not included on FNA later in 2021.
The above map is from the USDA Plants Database. As shown in blue, the species has been introduced throughout the United States and most of Canada.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND A BETTER POSITIVE PLANT ID.
I found this small colony of Melilotus officinalis (Yellow Sweet Clover) while working on a friend’s farm in 2019. Although the species is found throughout Missouri, and all over the country, it was the first time I had ever seen any. I hoped to get back out to the farm in 2020 for more photos but I became fairly busy and didn’t go. Maybe in 2021…
I apologize for not writing descriptions at the moment, but I have A LOT of wildflower pages to make and publish before I start getting too busy. I update this site and add new pages over the winter but I didn’t get finished. SO, I decided to just make the page with photos and links to other sites for better plant ID. I will be taking more photos over the summer and posting but I will also be working on these pages as I have time.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 100 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
*WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
CABI (INVASIVE SPECIES COMPENDIUM)
PFAF(PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO
SOUTHWEST DESERT FLORA
INVASIVE PLANT ATLAS
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates (and if they update their sources or even read what they say). Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂
*Some sites may list the species name as Melilotus Officinalis (L.) Pall. which is invalid (“nom. inval.”).