Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam.

Family: Fabaceae

Pertinent Synonyms & Notes (particularly those used in California; go to GRIN for other synonyms)


Pertinent Common Names (particularly those used in California; go to GRIN for other common names)

yellow sweetclover

Primary Disseminule Types

fruit (with or without attached calyx), seed

Description (diagnostics are in brown)

Fruit an indehiscent 1–2-seeded pod, ovoid, apex acute and beaked, 3–5 mm long x 2–4 mm wide, glabrous, brown, surface reticulately veined (mostly transversely), on reflexed stalk, with persistent calyx.

Seed irregularly triangular-ovate in outline with a large, shallow, oblique peripheral notch near one end, somewhat compressed, cross-section elliptic to ovate, shallow (and often pale) grooves on either face of the seed mark the separation of radicle from cotyledons (the radicle side is slightly smaller and thinner), (1.7)2–3 mm long x (1)1.3–1.6 mm wide x 0.9–1.1 mm thick. Surface dull, smooth (looks granular under magnification), greenish-, yellowish- or orangish-brown, often with randomly placed, small, reddish-brown spots, with a bilobal darkened area (“lens”) over the tips of the cotyledons and a smaller dark spot over the tip of the radicle.

Hilum in notch, round, ca. 0.1 mm diameter, whitish with a round to slit-like opening near its center.

Similar Species

Similar Species Comparison Chart

Risk Assessment (codes in yellow or red indicate cause for concern; assessments are current as of mid-2011; click AUQP, NZBORIC, or NZBPI for access to the most recent versions of these databases and possible assessment changes)