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Willow Dells Tr - Sue Smith

Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Melilotus officinalis - sweetclover

Synonyms: M. alba, M. arvensis, M. leucanthus, M. lutea, Medicago officinalis.
Other Common Names: white sweetclover, yellow sweetclover
Plant Form: Forb

Family: Fabaceae

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Willow Dells Tr
Sue Smith
Trifoliate leaf
Willow Dells Tr
Sue Smith
Plant - summer
Willow Dells Tr
Sue Smith
Forb Plant Description

Origin: Introduced   Life Cycle: Biennial or annual   Similar Species: Melilotus indica
General Desc: A tall, widely branched and leafy plant with tiny white or yellow pea flowers in numerous spikes. It grows from a long taproot.
Identification notes: Taprooted annual or biennial with short rhizomes. Stems erect; leaves alternate, short stemmed and pinnately compound with 3 oval leaflets. Flowers pea-like, tiny and white or yellow, borne on elongated stalks. Fruit is a plump ribbed pod.
Height: 2 to 10 feet


Habitat Description: A weed along roadsides, riverbanks and old fields where soil has been disturbed. It often forms dense patches. It grows in full sun or partial shade, but cannot tolerate dense shade. It prefers limestone and loamy soils.
Plant Communities: Riparian, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: Below 8000 feet

Flower Characteristics

Color: White or yellow     Shape: Irregular in elongated clusters     Tubular: Y     Flowering Period: Jun - Oct
Description: Elongated flower clusters can be 1-1/2 to 5 inches long. Individual flowers are less than 1/4 inch long.

Leaf and Stem Characteristics

Leaf Color: Green, grayish-green     Leaf Type: Compound     Leaf Shape: Round or oval     Leaf Margin: Toothed     Leaf Attachment: Alternate     Leaves Clasp: N
Hairs: Leaves and stems     Spines: N
Leaf Description: Leaves trifoliate (3 leaflets). Leaflets have hairs on their lower surface and are finely toothed.

Fruit and Seed Characteristics

Fruit Color: Black   
Fruit Type: Pod
Fruit Notes: Seed pods are 3/8 inch long and usually contain one seed.
Seed Notes: Seeds are egg-shaped, leathery, and wrinkled.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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