Sweet Clover

Scientific Name(s): Melilotus officinalis
Abundance: common
What: flowers, seeds, leaves
How: flowers in tea, seeds raw or roasted then ground into flour, leaves in salads or cooked
Where: Neglected areas, fields, yards
When: late winter through summer
Nutritional Value: starch in the seeds, protein in the leaves
Dangers: The leaves contain the potent blood anticoagulant agent coumarin. Do not consume this plant if you're already on blood thinner medication.

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are trifoliate, meaning each leaf is composed of three leaflets. The leaflets are oblong to elliptical in shape.

Venation: This plant features pinnate venation, where each leaflet has a central vein with smaller veins branching out to the sides.

Leaf Margin: The margins of the leaflets are serrated or toothed, particularly towards the tip.

Leaf Color: The leaves are a light green to greenish-yellow color.

Flower Structure: The flowers are small and arranged in elongated, narrow clusters or racemes, about 1"-1.5" long. Each flower is typical of the pea family, with a standard, wings, and keel.

Flower Color: The flowers are yellow or white, but all the flowers on a single plant will be the same color.

Fruit: The fruit is a small, blackish-brown pod, containing usually one or two seeds.

Seeds: Seeds are small, yellowish-brown, plentiful, and smooth.

Stem: The stems are erect, branching, and can be slightly hairy.

Hairs: There can be fine hairs on the stems and leaves, but they are generally not prominently hairy.

Height: Yellow sweet clover typically grows to a height of 2 to 5 feet.

Sweet Clover plant.
Clover - Sweet


Close-up of Sweet Clover leaves.

Close-up of Sweet Clover leaf top.
Clover - Sweet

Close-up of Sweet Clover leaf bottom.
Clover - Sweet

Sweet Clover flowers.
Clover - Sweet

Clover - Sweet

Close-up of Sweet Clover flowers.

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Sweet Clover have the same three-leaf shape as regular clover but the plant itself grows upright to over a two feet tall. Its young leaves can be eaten raw but can be slightly tough. The yellow flowers can be used to make a sweet clover tea. These flowers eventually form individual seedpods each containing one seed. These seeds can be eaten raw or roasted then ground into flour. Like most seeds they can also be boiled into a porridge or gruel.

Like other clovers, hops clover can fix atmospheric nitrogen, turning it into a form usable by other plants. For this reason it is a good "weed" to let grow in your garden as it will fertilize nearby plants.

Medicinal Summary:
Flowers/Leaves - blood thinner; would healer (tisane)

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