Melilotus officinalis, Yellow Sweetclover

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener September 21, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Melilotus officinalis, Yellow Sweetclover

Yellow sweetclover is an invasive annual to short-lived perennial herb native to Eurasia. Plants can grow to approximately 6.5 ft. (2 m) in height and can sometimes be woody at the base. Leaves are ovate to oblong, entire, stipulate, and 0.4 to 1 in. (1 to 2.5 cm) long. Flowering occurs from April to September, when yellow, pea-like flowers develop in a branched inflorescence at the tips of the flowering stems. Flowers are less than 0.25 in. (7 mm) long. Fruits are small, circular, wrinkled, and light brown pods that contain one seed (rarely two ). Plants occur along roadsides, in open fields, pastures, and other disturbed areas. Yellow sweet clover was introduced into North America as a forage crop in the 1900s.

What are invasive species and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Fabales > Fabaceae > Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam.

Synonym(s): yellow sweet-clover

Melilotus officinalis - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

Yellow sweetclover - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important 

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way and place to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

 How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS.

Cooperative Extension Offices - Find your local Cooperative Extension office on this map provided by USDA.

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Plant

Yellow sweetclover is an annual to short-lived perennial herb that can grow to approximately 6.5 ft. (2 m) in height and can sometimes be woody at the base.

Dave Powell, USDA Forest service, bugwood.org Steve Dewey, Utah State University, bugwood.org

Foliage

Leaves are ovate to oblong, entire, stipulate, and 0.4 to 1 in. (1 to 2.5 cm) long.

Steve Dewey, Utah State University,  bugwood.org Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte,  bugwood.org

Flower

Flowering occurs from April to September, when yellow, pea-like flowers develop in a branched inflorescence at the tips of the flowering stems. Flowers are less than 0.25 in. (7 mm) long.

Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte,  bugwood.org Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, bugwood.org

Fruit

Fruits are small, circular, wrinkled, and light brown pods that contain one seed (rarely two).

Steve Dewey, Utah State University,   bugwood.org Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, bugwood.org

Native Species That Can Resemble Yellow Sweetclover

- Images at invasive.org

   
bugwood.org bugwood.org

- Images at invasive.org

   
bugwood.org bugwood.org

Additional Images for Yellow Sweetclover

Yellow sweetclover - Images at Invasive.org

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land-Grant University System - Find your land-grant university's college of agriculture, Cooperative Extension office, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Element Stewardship Abstract - The Nature Conservancy

Weed of the Week - USDA Forest Service

Terrestrial Invasives - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Invasives Database - TexasInvasives.org

Species Bios - National Park Service

Connect with us

  • Facebook

Welcome

This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by eXtension.org

LOCATE

USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.