Yellow Sweet Clover

Yellow Sweet Clover
Yellow Sweet Clover. Melilotus officinale.
Fabaceae, the pea, bean or legume family.

Plant: Tall branching plant, to 5', with clover-like leaves and elongated clusters of small, yellow flowers. Annual.
Flowers: Yellow, pea-like, about 1/4", in elongated clusters (racemes), to about 4".
Leaves: Alternate, compound, clover-like, with three narrowly elliptical, toothed leaflets, 1/2"-1".
Fruit: Small, wrinkled, ovoid pod.
Blooming: May-September
Habitat: Roadsides, fields, waste areas.

Comments: A European import, very similar to white sweet clover (M. albus/em>), except for the color of the flowers. Like the white variety, widely planted to fix nitrogen in soils, and as a source of nectar. Also like the white variety, the foliage has a pleasant new-mown-hay fragrance, due to the the compound coumarin, certain derivatives of which are potent anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin). Coumarin has been used in perfumery and as a flavoring agent, though it is currently banned for most ingestible applications.

Where to find it: Common in the fields and near the pond.