Yellow Sweet Clover, Melilotus officinalis - also known as Yellow Melilot or Common Melilot - is a species of legume in the family Fabaceae, introduced in North America from Eurasia. This is currently the yellow flowers you see lining the highway mediums all over the Bluegrass, all with its cousins the white, pink and red clovers.
The Yellow Sweet Clover is a biennial plant that grows to be 2 to 4 feet high at maturity and blooms from in spring and summer. Flowers are yellow. Its characteristic sweet odor, intensified by drying, but it has a bitter taste.
This plant is very common and can adapt to various soils, but especially likes alkaline soils. It is resistant to drought and has abundant seed production. In some areas - namely the Bluegrass - it is an invasive species. Common places where it can be found include prairies, abandoned fields, roadsides, and railroad ballasts. It does not tolerate dense shade and will stretch out to reach the sun.
Yellow Sweet Clover is used mainly for agricultural purposes. It is grown as hay despite its toxic properties when moldy. It is considered an excellent green manure. Sweet Clover is also a major source of nectar for domestic honey bees. Flowers and seeds can be used as flavoring, but the leaves have a bitter taste. Sweet Clover contains Coumadin - a powerful anticoagulant toxin (thins the blood) - when the plant becomes moldy. This can lead to bleeding diseases (internal hemorrhaging) and death in cattle. To prevent this, hay containing the plant must be properly dried and cured, especially in wet environments.
***Sweet Clover has been often used in herbal medicine to fight hypertension (high blood pressure), insomnia, helps promote lymphatic drainage and reduces fluid retention, especially in the tissues of the vein wall.
Sweet clover leaves and flowering branches have been used for improving blood circulation, and for varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Some herbal/diet supplement products containing Sweet Clover have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives. Check with your pharmacist for more details regarding the particular brand you use. If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor before using this or any other herbal product: liver disease. Liquid preparations of this product may contain sugar and/or alcohol. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence or liver disease. Sweet clover IS NOT recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
***This author takes no responsibility for the use of alternative or herbal medications. Seek the advice of your health care provider before using alternative or herbal medications.***