This article is about the genus of grassland plants. For the moshav, see Mlilot.
Melilotus officinalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Trifolieae
Genus: Melilotus

See text


Brachylobus Dulac (1867)[1]
Melilothus Homem. (1819)[1]
Meliloti Medik. (1787)[1]
Meliotus Steud. (1841)[1]
Sertula O. Ktze. (1891)[1]

Melilotus, known as Melilot or Sweet Clover, is a genus in the family Fabaceae. Members are known as common grassland plants and as weeds of cultivated ground. Originally from Europe and Asia, it is now found worldwide.

Like the most fragrant of the plants called sweet grass, this clover is commonly named for its sweet smell, which in both plants is due to its high content of the perfume agent coumarin (which is bitter to the taste, and is probably produced by the plant to discourage ingestion by animals). Coumarin, in turn, is used by fungi to form a poisonous anticoagulant in moldly or spoiled sweet clover, called dicoumarol. This compound was the historical cause of so-called sweet clover disease, the analysis of which led eventually to the production of the warfarin family of anticoagulants.



Melilotus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including case-bearers of the genus Coleophora that including C. frischella and C. trifolii.

Melilotus is often used as a green manure and turned into the soil to increase its nitrogen and organic matter content. It is especially valuable in heavy soils because of its deep rooting. However, it may fail if the soil is too acidic. It should be turned into the soil when 8 to 10 inches tall. Unscarified seed is best sown in spring when the ground is not too dry; scarified seed is better sown in late fall or even in the snow, so it will germinate before competing weeds the following spring.[2]


Blue Melilot (Trigonella caerulea) is not a member of the genus, despite the name.


The genus Melilotus currently has nineteen recognized species:[3]

  • Melilotus albus Medik.
  • Melilotus altissimus Thuill.
  • Melilotus dentatus (Waldst. & Kit.) Pers.
  • Melilotus elegans Salzm. ex Ser.
  • Melilotus hirsutus Lipsky
  • Melilotus indicus (L.) All.
  • Melilotus infestus Guss.
  • Melilotus italicus (L.) Lam.
  • Melilotus macrocarpus Coss. & Durieu
  • Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam.
  • Melilotus polonicus (L.) Desr.
  • Melilotus segetalis (Brot.) Ser.
  • Melilotus siculus (Turra) B. D. Jacks.
  • Melilotus speciosus Durieu
  • Melilotus spicatus (Sm.) Breistr.
  • Melilotus suaveolens Ledeb.
  • Melilotus sulcatus Desf.
  • Melilotus tauricus (M. Bieb.) Ser.
  • Melilotus wolgicus Poir.


  1. ^ a b c d e Woodgate, Katherine; Maxted, Nigel; Bennett, Sarita Jane (1996). "Genetic resources of Mediterranean pasture and forage legumes". In Bennett, Sarita Jane; Cocks, Philip Stanley. Genetic resources of Mediterranean pasture and forage legumes. Current Plant Science and Biotechnology in Agriculture. 33. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 203. ISBN 0-7923-5522-9. 
  2. ^ Five Acres and Independence by M.G. Kains. 1973.
  3. ^ "Species Nomenclature in GRIN". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • MELILOTUS — in Attica laudatissimus, ubique nascitur in asperis et silvestribus et plurimi olim ad coronas usus apud Veteres fuit, quibus expetebatur non flore tantum, sed etiam foliis brevissimis et pinguissimis. Unde et Sertulae Campanae nomen apud Latinos …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • MELILOTUS — MELILOTUS, донник, травянистое растение сем. мотыльковых (Papilionaceae). Описано много видов донника: М. parvifloras, dentatus, albus . (см. рисунок) tauricus, nea $ § politanus, altissimus, of L I Jj ficinalis. Применяется в ВИрЖ sMJs… …   Большая медицинская энциклопедия

  • Melilōtus — (Melilote, Melilotenklee, Melilotenkraut, M. Lam., Steinklee, Honigklee), Pflanzengattung aus der Familie der Papilionaceae Loteae Trifolieae; Diadelphie, Decandrie L. Kelch fünfzähnig, Schiffchen stumpf, Segel gleichmäßig convex, am oberen Rande …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Melilōtus — Juss. (Melilotenklee, Melote, Steinklee, Honigklee), Gattung der Leguminosen, einjährige oder ausdauernde Kräuter mit gefiederten Blättern, drei meist gezähnelten Blättchen, dem Blattstiel angewachsenen Nebenblättern, achselständigen, gestielten …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Melilotus — Melilōtus Juss., Honigklee, Steinklee, Melilote, Melote, Pflanzengattg. der Leguminosen, Kräuter mit verschieden gefärbten Blütentrauben, die wegen ihres Gehaltes an Kumarin und Melilotol stark honigartig riechen. Arten: M. vulgāris W. (weißer… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Melilotus — Dieser Artikel behandelt die Pflanzengattung Steinklee (Melilotus); für die Pflanzenart Trifolium saxatile siehe Stein Klee. Steinklee Weißer Steinklee (Melilotus albus) Systematik …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Melilotus —   Trébol de olor Melilotus officinalis …   Wikipedia Español

  • Melilotus — Mélilot Mélilot …   Wikipédia en Français

  • melilotus — noun erect annual or biennial plant grown extensively especially for hay and soil improvement • Syn: ↑melilot, ↑sweet clover • Hypernyms: ↑woody plant, ↑ligneous plant • Hyponyms: ↑white sweet clover, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Melilotus — ID 52927 Symbol Key MELIL Common Name sweetclover Family Fabaceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity N/A US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI …   USDA Plant Characteristics

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