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Published In: Vorlesungen der Churpfälzischen physicalisch-ökonomischen Gesellschaft 2: 382. 1787. (Vorles. Churpfälz. Phys.-Ökon. Ges.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/29/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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Melilotus albus Medik. (white sweet clover)

Trifolium officinalis L.

Pl. 403 a–c; Map 1784

Stems 30–200 cm long. Petioles 1–2 cm long, the terminal leaflet with the stalk 2–6 mm long. Stipules 5–9 mm long. Leaflets 10–30 mm long, 4–17 mm wide. Inflorescences (2–)4–14 cm long, becoming elongated at fruiting, the stalk 1–5 cm long. Corollas white, the banner 3.5–5.0 mm long, 2.0–2.2 mm wide, slightly longer than the wings and keel. Ovary narrowed at the base, but not stalked. Fruits 2.5–4.0 mm long, sessile or nearly so, the surfaces with a network of raised nerves. 2n=16. June–December.

Introduced, scattered to common nearly throughout the state, but apparently absent from most of the Mississippi Lowlands Division (native of Europe, Asia; introduced nearly throughout the U.S., Canada). Upland prairies, glades, bases, ledges, and tops of bluffs, banks of streams and rivers, margins of ponds and lakes, and oxbows; also pastures, old fields, fallow fields, crop fields, levees, lawns, railroads, roadsides, and open, disturbed areas.

Melilotus albus is easily distinguished from M. officinalis by the white flowers and fruits with a network of raised nerves. It is very variable in height, thickness of the stems, degree of branching, period of flowering, shape and size of the leaves, and color of the seeds (Turkington et al., 1978). The flowers are self-fertile, but need an insect visitor to trip the pollination mechanism. The species name has been spelled M. alba in some of the botanical literature, but according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature Melilotus should be treated as a masculine word with the appropriate masculine spelling of the species epithet.



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