€1,50 – €3,50
An imposing plant, annual or biennial, with a characteristic, strong and pleasant aroma of fresh hay. Yellow sweetclover is one of the best honey plants in the world. It is used in medicine and cosmetics.
Seeds of the wild, non-cultivated form.
Polish name: yellow melilot, medical melilot, nostril, Tatar grass
Latin Name: Melilotus officinalis L.
Family: legumes Fabaceae (the bean family Papilionaceae)
Status in Poland: naturalized since antiquity (archeophyte)
Imposing, up to 1 m tall, but short-lived, annual or biennial, hemicryptophyte, with a characteristic, strong and pleasant smell of fresh hay (coumarin and melilotin).
Tap roots but branched. The stems straight, or upright, highly branched, thin, glabrous, vividly green with small stripes, leaves alternate arranged. Compound, trifoliate leaves with 6-13 pairs of veins on leaflets, dark and bare on top, short-hairy at the bottom, therefore paler. The stipules present, entire-edged, very hairy. The inflorescences in the form of racemes hanging from long pedicels. With the single papilionaceous flowers, sulfur yellow, composed of a calyx and a corolla. The calyx ciliated, with the 5 unevenly and deeply indented teeth. The corolla is sulfur yellow, with a short keel, and the banner, and the wings of the same length. Inside the flower of yellow sweetclover, there is one bare pistil set on a characteristic cap, and ten stamens. Nine of these stamens are fused into a tube, one remains free and bare.
The fruit is a small (3-4 mm long), bare, cross-wrinkled, elliptical pod, containing 1 or 2 seeds. The seeds are inconspicuous, usually yellow-green, rarely with purple stripes.
Yellow sweetclover grows best on moist and loose soil, in very sunny places. Sowing 18-25 kg seeds per ha, 30-40 cm spacing. Otherwise known as a “Tatar grass”, it was valued for its good growth on barren, rocky, sandy, degraded soils, in frost dells, where other small-seeded legumes and noble varieties of grass froze.
Feeding it to cattle was risky, so its cultivation as a forage had stopped in behalf of green manure especially for root crops. Recently, more and more often the yellow sweetclover is sown on areas contaminated with dioxins, to phytoremediate the ground. It also strengthens slopes, embankments, and ditches well.
Yellow sweetclover is an ancient medicinal, spice, fodder, honey plant, but also an insect repellent. However, care should be taken when consuming it and feeding it to pigs. Only young sweetclover specimens are used for fresh forage or silage, before flower buds develop. The buds, the flowers and especially the seed pods are bad for mammals, especially when mixed with sweet vernal grass. They cause internal bleeding, digestive disorders and general weakness. Contrary to what some survival and bushcraft manuals provide, it is better not to eat even young, delicate leaves and shoots, or “pea soup” from seeds, eventually in small amounts and after boiling. Some cheeses and tobacco are flavored with sweetclover herb. It can repel moths, bedbugs or exterminate lice.
Dicoumarol from this plant is used in cosmetics and in the production of rat poison. In folk medicine, the yellow sweetclover is used externally for acne, bruises, swellings, non-healing wounds, abscesses and conjunctival diseases. In the past, it was used internally for sore throats, against hemorrhoids and varicose veins, lymphatic stagnation, diastolic and to calm down, but it puts strain on the liver and kidneys.
Yellow sweetclover is one of the best honey plants in the world. Blooming from mid-June to October, it provides up to 280 kg/ha of very good honey from roadsides, rail tracks and fallow lands, and in the case of deliberate field cultivation, even 600 kg from one ha. Sweetclover honey will be whitish or light yellow, with a pleasant, vanilla scent. Even a small admixture in multi-flower honeys will improve their taste and aroma. Yellow sweetclover honey yield is sometimes lower than white sweetclover, but the yellow one is less frequently eaten by herbivores. Honeybees visite it at noon and in the evening, collecting both pollen and nectar.