white sweet clover

(Melilotus albus)

Conservation Status
white sweet clover
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Weed Status

White sweet clover is listed as an invasive terrestrial plant by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. However, it is not currently regulated in Minnesota.

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


White sweet clover is a 1 to 8 tall, erect, freely branching, biennial forb with a strong taproot. The stems are light green and hairless. The taller plants tend to be bushy, the shorter plants lanky. In the first year they are small and do not flower. In the second year they are taller, bushy, and produce many flower clusters.

The compound leaves are alternate, hairless and divided into three leaflets.The leaflets are oblanceolate or obovate, ½ to 1 long and up to ¼ wide. They are grayish-green, finely toothed along the middle and upper margins, the teeth pointed outward rather than forward. The middle leaflet is on a distinct stalk.

The inflorescence is many tall, spike-like clusters of stalked flowers. The clusters are on elongated stems produced in the axils of the middle and upper leaves. The flowering stems are 2 to 6 long. Dozens of small flowers are crowded along the top two thirds of the stem.

The flowers are to long and are attached to the stem with a minute stalk. They droop down but ascend at the tip.




1 to 8


Flower Color




Similar Species


Yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) has yellow flowers. It is usually a little shorter than white sweet clover. The foliage is plain green, not grayish-green. It blooms 2 to 3 weeks earlier than white sweet clover.


Disturbed sites, roadsides.




May to September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




Native to Asia, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Introduced and naturalized in North America.





  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  


Fabaceae (legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae  


  Genus Melilotus (melilots and sweetclovers)  

Some sources, including BONAP and USDA PLANTS, consider white sweet clover (Melilotus alba) and yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) the same species with differently colored flowers. It that is the case, then white sweet clover should be treated as Melilotus officinalis ssp. alba. BONAP lists Melilotus officinalis but not Melilotus alba. It does not list subspecies or varieties of any plants. USDA PLANTS curiously lists just sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis), with no subspecies, and with Melilotus alba as a synonym. Most sources treat white and yellow sweet clovers as separate species.


Subordinate Taxa






Melilotus alba

Melilotus leucanthus

Melilotus officinalis ssp. alba


Common Names



honey clover

white melilot

white sweet clover

white sweet-clover















Compound leaf

A leaf that is divided into leaflets, each leaflet having the general appearance of a leaf, with all leaflets attached to a single leaf stem.



Reverse lanceolate; much longer than wide, thickest toward the tip, and gradually tapering toward the base.



Reverse egg-shaped, with the attachment at the narrower end.

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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


    white sweet clover   white sweet clover  
    white sweet clover   white sweet clover  
    white sweet clover      


    white sweet clover      



  Sweet White Clover
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Sweet White Clover  

pea family

Melilotus alba

Farmers will plant this in rotation in their fields to replenish the nitrogen in the soil.

  Melilotus alba WHITE SWEET CLOVER
Frank Mayfield
  Melilotus alba WHITE SWEET CLOVER  



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Other Videos
  White Sweet Clover

Published on Aug 19, 2012

White sweet clover ID and control

  White Sweet-Clover (Melilotus albus, Melilotus alba) ~ Introduced Species
Wandering Sole TV

Published on Jul 22, 2013

White Sweet-Clover (Melilotus albus, Melilotus alba) is native to Europe and was introduced to the North American Continent as a forage crop. It is a member of the pea (Fabaceae) family. Quoting Wikipedia: "It was introduced to North America in the 17th century for cattle forage purposes and is now widespread throughout Canada and the United States, where it has become invasive and can outcompete native plant species." A gangly plant, it can grow up to heights of 2m.

White Sweet-Clover also goes by the names of Bokhara clover, honey clover, tree clover, sweet clover, white-flowered sweet clover, and white melilot.

  Bokhara Clover (Melilotus Albus) / White Honey Flower - 2012-06-26

Published on Jun 27, 2012

Melilotus albus (Bokhara clover, honey clover, tree clover, sweet clover, white-flowered sweet clover, white sweet clover, white melilot)

De Witte honingklaver (Melilotus albus) is een plant uit de vlinderbloemenfamilie (Leguminosae).




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