€1,50 – €3,50
The white sweetclover is one of the most melliferous plants. An impressive biennial plant, prefers light, fresh and weeded out places with a neutral or alkaline pH. It blooms from June until October.
Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
Polish name: white melilot
Latin name: Melilotus albus L.
Family: legumes Fabaceae (the bean family Papilionaceae)
Status in Poland: native, quite frequent
An imposing biennial plant with the upright shoots, compound trifoliate leaves, white flowers and highly nerved pods.
The stem is almost completely bare, only slightly ciliated at the top. The leaflets of a compound leaf differ in shape: those of the lower leaves are rhombic-elliptical and slightly serrated, those of the upper leaves are oblong-lanceolate and sharply serrated. The stipules are entire-edged.
The flowers of the white sweetclover are numerous, gathered in racemes measuring 8-10 cm. The cups of individual flowers are bell-shaped, glabrous or slightly hairy, with teeth shorter than the tube. The wings and a keel of equal length, smaller than a banner. There are 2 to 4 ovules in the pistil; there are 10 stamens, one of which is free and the remaining 9 have filaments fused into a tube.
The fruit in the form of a veined, blackish pod with 1 or 2 seeds.
The seeds elliptical, dull, smooth, darken over time.
For white sweetclover, light, fresh and weeded out places with a neutral or alkaline pH are needed. It tolerates barren, gravel and sandy soils as well as frosts. It is worth to plow the area in autumn, and then harrow it in spring; sow in 25-30 cm spacing, in the amount of 5-7 kg of seeds per hectare. It is sown as single spiecies or as a catch crop, and/or as a protection plant, in polyculture with phacelia. In crop rotation it will grow well after rye, spring barley, and/or winter wheat.
The white sweetclover has naturalized in Canada, the USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia. It was beekeepers who were the most important professional group that sowed the white clover beyond its natural, Eurasian range. Due to their extreme attractiveness to insects, other plant species often do not develop seeds at all, growing near the white sweetclover, as they are no longer visited by pollinators.
The white clover harms bisons, but not the European breeds of sheep and horses.
The white clover is one of the best honey plants in subboreal, temperate and subtropical climates, it is visited by pollinators in the afternoon and evening. The bees often travel great distances to collect pollen and sweetclover’s nectar , even if other good honey plants bloom near the hive. In Poland, white sweetclover is great especially in very dry and hot summers, when other legumes stop nectarising. Honey yield from 1 ha is 300–600 kg, pollen yield 40-90 kg / ha. It blooms long time from June-July to October. A white sweetclover honey is white or light yellow, quickly crystallizing and then turning white, not too sweet in taste, but without any hints of bitterness, with a slightly vanilla scent.