Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam.
Yellow Sweet Clover
CC = *
CW = 3
MOC = 69
Family - Fabaceae/Faboideae
Stems - To +2m tall ,erect, herbaceous, from taproot, branching above, glabrous to sparse pubescent, with musky scent when cut or crushed.
Leaves - Alternate, trifoliolate, stipulate. Stipules to 5mm long, subulate. Leaflets with petiolules. Center leaf with petiolule to 5mm long. Lateral leaflets with petiolules to +/-1mm long. All leaflets variable in shape from oblong to oblanceolate, serrulate, typically truncate at apex and mucronate, glabrous to sparse pubescent.
Inflorescence - Axillary racemes near apex of stems. Peduncles sparsely appressed pubescent. Raceme to +/-8cm long, indeterminate, +/-50 flowered. Pedicels 2.5mm long, pilose, subtended by tiny lanate subulate bract to 1.5mm long.
Flowers - Corolla yellow, papilionaceous. Standard 3.5-4mm broad, 5-6mm long. Stamens diadelphous, 4mm long. Filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow. Ovary green, 1.2mm long, glabrous. Style glabrous, 2.7mm long. Calyx tubular, +2mm long, 5-toothed. Teeth subequal, +/-1mm long. Fruit to 5mm long, compressed, glabrous.
Flowering - May - October.
Habitat - Fields, pastures, disturbed sites, waste ground, roadsides, railroads.
Origin - Native to Eurasia.
Other info. - It's hard to miss this plant in early summer as it is growing nearly everywhere. The yellow flowers are a big favorite of bees and the genus name means "Honey Lotus".
Photographs taken near Alley Spring, Shannon County, MO., 6-6-03.