Sweet white clover

Melilotus alba

Range: Scattered at low to middle elevations.  Common in S half of BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare to the W and N; introduced from Eurasia.

Description: Annual or biennial herb from a taproot, sweet-scented in drying; stems erect, 0.5-2 m tall, freely branched. Leaves alternate, pinnately compound; leaflets 3, oblong-elliptic to egg-shaped, 1-4 cm long, short-hairy to glabrous.  A slender, spike-like, axillary raceme of 20 to 50 or more pea-like flowers, the racemes 5-20 cm long on stalks from shorter to longer than the leaves; corollas white, 4-5 mm long.  Pods, egg-shaped, somewhat flattened but still plump, nodding, 3-6 mm long, somewhat leathery, glabrous, net-veined, 1-chambered; seeds 1 or 2.

Ecology: Mesic to dry fields, roadsides and waste places.

Notes: Introduced. In some areas, sweet-clovers are important nectar plants for honeybees.

  • Eflora
  • Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon.  1994.  Plants of Coastal British Columbia: including Washington, Oregon & Alaska. Lone Pine Publishing. Vancouver. 528 p.

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