Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba)Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba)
Wild Flowers of Sleepy Hollow Lake From Art and Photo Journals and Galleries Directory

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Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba)
Table of Contents

Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 01
(Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 01)  White sweet clover, a member of the Pea family (Leguminosae), can grow to a height of eight feet.  Most of the ones we have seen are less than four feet in height.  To simplify identification of the white sweet clover, we look for these two features: the pinnate leaves with three oval shaped, finely toothed leaflets, and the white flowered, long narrow racemes that arise from leaf axils.
Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 01a
(Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 01a)  In this photo, we take a closer look at the three-leafleted pinnate leaves that grow alternately along the stem, and at the way the flowering racemes grow from the leaf axils.  A native of Europe that was brought to North America, white sweet clover was imported for use as a forage crop.  This wild flower is also cultivated by bee keepers for the nectar it secretes, which led to the scientific name "meli" (Greek for "honey").
Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 02
(Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 02)  As we can see from this photo, other insects enjoy dining on the sweet nectar of the 1/4 inch long white sweet clover flowers.
Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 02a
(Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 02a)  We are always awed by the detail in even the smallest of God's creations.  Each of these 1/4 inch long white sweet clover flowers has five petals: the lower two petals form a bowl, cup, or keel (depending on the observer's point of reference), the two middle petals wing out slightly, and the top petal covers the others like a canopy.
Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 03
(Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 03)  Each white sweet clover flower hangs down from the raceme on a curved stem.  At the bottom of the photo are flowers that have begun to wither.
Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 04
(Clover, White Sweet (Melilotus alba) - 04)  In this photo of the white sweet clover, we can observe the life cycle of the flowers.  At the top of the photo, all of the flowers on the raceme have completely opened and begun to go to seed.  On the lower left of the photo, the flowers on the raceme have almost completely opened, while the flowers on the raceme to the right have just begun to open.  And, slightly to the left of the center of the photo, there is a raceme just beginning to grow from one of the leaf axils.

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