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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Trifolieae
Genus: Melilotus
Species: M. albus – M. altissimus – M. dentatus – M. elegans – M. gorkemii – M. hirsutus – M. indicus – M. infestus – M. italicus – M. macrocarpus – M. messanensis – M. neapolitanus – M. officinalis – M. polonicus – M. segetalis – M. serratifolius – M. siculus – M. speciosus – M. spicatus – M. suaveolens – M. sulcatus – M. tauricus – M. wolgicus

Melilotus Mill., Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4: s.p. (1754).

Trifolium sect. Melilotus L.
Trigonella subg. Melilotus (Mill.) Coulot & Rabaute, Bull. Soc. Bot. Centre-Ouest. Numéro Special 40: 631 (2013).
Brachylobus Dulac, Fl. Hautes-Pyr. 279 (1867)
Melilota Medik., Vorles. Churpfälz. Phys.-Ökon. Ges. 2: 382 (1787).
Sertula L. ex Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 1: 205 (1891).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Africa & Eurasia
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Altay, Amur, Assam, Austria, Baleares, Baltic States, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Buryatiya, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Central European Russia, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Chita, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Djibouti, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, East Himalaya, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Free State, Germany, Greece, Gulf States, Hainan, Hungary, India, Inner Mongolia, Iran, Iraq, Irkutsk, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Kriti, Krym, Kuwait, KwaZulu-Natal, Laos, Lebanon-Syria, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madeira, Manchuria, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, North Caucasus, Northern Provinces, Northwest European Russia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Primorye, Romania, Sakhalin, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Sicilia, Sinai, South European Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Tuva, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, West Himalaya, West Siberia, Western Sahara, Xinjiang, Yakutskiya, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe
Introduced into:
Alabama, Angola, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, Azores, Bahamas, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, California, Chad, Chatham Is., Chile Central, Chile North, Chile South, Colombia, Colorado, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Easter Is., Ecuador, Finland, Florida, Georgia, Great Britain, Honduras, Illinois, Ireland, Jamaica, Jawa, Kamchatka, Kentucky, Kerguelen, Louisiana, Magadan, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexican Pacific Is., Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southwest, New Caledonia, New Mexico, New South Wales, New York, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Niger, Norfolk Is., North Carolina, North European Russia, Northern Territory, Ogasawara-shoto, Oregon, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Queensland, Réunion, Socotra, Somalia, South Australia, South Carolina, Sri Lanka, St.Helena, Sudan, Tasmania, Tennessee, Texas, Uganda, Uruguay, Vermont, Victoria, Western Australia

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Miller, P. 1754. The Gardeners Dictionary. Abridged. Ed. 4, Vol. 1–3 (unpaged). John & James Rivington, London. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.79061 Reference page. : 44046441.

Additional references

Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A., Moore, D.M., Valentine, D.H., Walters, S.M. & Webb, D.A. (eds.) 1968. Flora Europaea. Volume 2: Rosaceae to Umbelliferae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), xxvii + 455 pp, ISBN 0-521-06662-X. Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Melilotus in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 12. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Melilotus. Published online. Accessed: Jun 12 2021. 2021. Melilotus. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 12.
Hassler, M. 2021. Melilotus. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 12. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Melilotus. Accessed: 12 Jun 2021.

Vernacular names
العربية: حندقوق
azərbaycanca: Xəşənbül
беларуская: Баркун
čeština: Komonice
Чӑвашла: Илепер
dansk: Stenkløver
Deutsch: Steinklee
English: Melilot
eesti: Mesikas
euskara: Itsabalki
فارسی: ملیلتوس
suomi: Mesikät
français: Mélilot
עברית: דבשה
hornjoserbsce: Komonc
magyar: Somkóró
հայերեն: Իշառվույտ
italiano: Meliloto
日本語: シナガワハギ属
ქართული: ძიძო
қазақша: Түйежоңышқа
lietuvių: Barkūnas
latviešu: Amoliņš
norsk nynorsk: Steinkløverslekta
norsk: Steinkløverslekten
polski: Nostrzyk
русский: Донник
slovenčina: Komonica
svenska: Sötväpplingssläktet
Türkçe: Taş yoncası
українська: Буркун
Tiếng Việt: Chi Nhãn hương
中文: 草木犀属

Melilotus, known as melilot, sweet clover, and kumoniga (from the Cumans),[3] is a genus in the family Fabaceae (the same family that also includes the Trifolium clovers). Members are known as common grassland plants and as weeds of cultivated ground. Originally from Europe and Asia, it is now found worldwide.

This legume is commonly named for its sweet smell, which is due to the presence of coumarin in its tissues. Coumarin, though responsible for the sweet smell of hay and newly mowed grass, has a bitter taste, and, as such, possibly acts as a means for the plant to discourage consumption by animals.[4] Fungi (including Penicillium, Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Mucor[5]) can convert coumarin into dicoumarol, a toxic anticoagulant. Consequently, dicoumarol may be found in decaying sweet-clover, and was the cause of the so-called sweet-clover disease, recognized in cattle in the 1920s.[6] A few varieties of sweet clover have been developed with low coumarin content and are safer for forage and silage.[7]

The name sweet clover varies orthographically (sweet-clover, sweetclover).


Melilotus species are eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, such as those of the genus Coleophora, including C. frischella and C. trifolii.

Melilotus, often used as a green manure, can be 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.[8]

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

The genus Melilotus currently has nineteen recognized species:[9]

Melilotus albus Medik. (white sweet clover)
Melilotus altissimus Thuill. (tall yellow sweet clover)
Melilotus dentatus (Waldst. & Kit.) Pers.
Melilotus elegans Salzm. ex Ser.
Melilotus hirsutus Lipsky
Melilotus indicus (L.) All. (annual yellow sweet clover, Indian sweet clover)
Melilotus infestus Guss.
Melilotus italicus (L.) Lam.
Melilotus macrocarpus Coss. & Durieu
Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pall. (yellow sweet clover)
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. (Mediterranean sweet clover)
Melilotus tauricus (M. Bieb.) Ser.
Melilotus wolgicus Poir. (Volga sweet clover, Russian sweet clover)


"Melilotus Mill. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
Woodgate, Katherine; Maxted, Nigel; Bennett, Sarita Jane (1996). Bennett, Sarita Jane; Cocks, Philip Stanley (eds.). Genetic resources of Mediterranean pasture and forage legumes. Current Plant Science and Biotechnology in Agriculture. 33. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-7923-5522-9.
Bulgarian Folk Customs, Mercia MacDermott, pg 27
"". Retrieved 26 November 2011.
Edwards WC, Burrows GE, Tyr RJ: 1984, Toxic plants of Oklahoma:clovers. Okla Vet Med Assoc 36:30-32.
Behzad Yamini, Robert H. Poppenga, W. Emmett Braselton, Jr., and Lawrence J. Judge (1995). "Dicoumarol (moldy sweet clover) toxicosis in a group of Holstein calves". J Vet Diagn Invest. 7 (3): 420–422. doi:10.1177/104063879500700328. PMID 7578469.
Christina Curell (July 2, 2013). "Sweet clovers: What is the difference between yellow sweet clover and white sweet clover?". Michigan State University. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
Five Acres and Independence by M.G. Kains. 1973.
"Species Nomenclature in GRIN". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2010.

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