White Sweet Clover (Melilotus albus)
The height of its season is the late spring and early summer, but don’t count White Sweet Clover out at any season. This plant was sticking its head through a chain-link fence in Beechview in early November. Imported for fodder, White Sweet Clover and the similar yellow species M. officinalis (almost indistinguishable until the flowers appear) have made themselves at home here to such an extent that some regard them as pests. Nevertheless, as nitrogen-fixers that cattle like to eat, they give us a lot in return for the inconvenience they cause us.
Gray takes Melilotus as feminine, though modern botanists have conspired to claim the name for the masculine side. He describes the genus and species:
MELILOTUS [Tourn.] Hill. MELILOT. SWEET CLOVER.
Flowers much as in Trifolium, but in spike-like racemes, small. Corolla deciduous, free from the stamen-tube. Pod ovoid, coriaceous, wrinkled, longer than the calyx, scarcely dehiscent, 1-2-seeded. Annual or biennial herbs, fragrant in drying, with pinnately 3-foliolate leaves. (Name from meli, honey, and lotos, some leguminous plant.)
M. ALBA Desr. (WHITE M.) Tall; leaflets narrowly obovate to oblong, serrate, truncate or emarginate ; corolla white, 4-5 mm. long, the standard longer than the other petals pod 3-4 mm. long, somewhat reticulate. Rich soil, roadsides, etc., common. (Nat. from Eu.)