Description. Sweet clover (Melilotus albus) is an annual and biennial herbaceous plant of Legumes family, Papilionoideae subfamily. It has a faint aroma of coumarin. There are several folk names of the sweet clover: common sweet clover, honey clover, white melilot, Arctic clover.
Sweet clover is an excellent nectariferous plant. Its stem is naked, erect, ribbed in the upper part, grows to a height of 2 meters, its root is main, penetrating two or more meters in depth, the leaves are regular with dentate folioles, flowers are white, small. Its fruits are mesh-wrinkled ovoid beans, late, black-brown in color, with 1-2 seeds. Its fruit ripen in August.
Clover is not picky about soil and climatic conditions. The plant is very light-demanding, differs with its cold resistance. It grows well on different types of soil in the forest-steppe and steppe zones, including stony, Solonetz and alkaline soils that are unsuitable for other crops. It does not tolerate very wet and acidic soils, it is drought-resistant. It is cultivated in garden and farm plots. It grows in continental Europe, North America, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia,
Reproduction occurs with the help of seeds. It is best to sow the seeds in early spring (in March or April). Before sowing the seeds must be soaked for a couple of hours. It is to be sown to a depth of 1.5-2 cm with a row spacing of 50-60 cm. The plant flowers from June to September, flowering lasts more than a month. The duration of flowering is 45-60 days. The seeding rate of the clover seeds is 14-20 kg per hectare for ordinary sowing and 6-8 kg per hectare for wide-row sowing.
Clover’s honey is considered to be the first-class one. It has high healing and nutritional properties, as well as a wonderful aroma. Honey is of white color, has a vanilla taste.
The flower brushes, side shoots and tops of grass with leaves, harvested during flowering constitute a medicinal raw material. It is necessary to harvest in dry, fair weather.
Application. It is widely used in a mixture of lawn grasses, as a phyto-meliorative plant on sands, erosion plots, Solonetz, steep slopes. Its extensive root system remarkably anchors the sides and slopes even on stony soils. It is an excellent nectariferous plant. It releases a large amount of nectar for a long time. Bees gather up to 0.09 mg of nectar from one flower, nectar bearing capacity is 300 kg / ha. The productivity of honey is 200-300 kg / ha.
It is used as a pasture crop, for additional green feeding, silage, hay, as green fertilizer. It is sown for green fodder and silage more often with Sudan grass, millet, oats, sorghum.
The plant is considered to be an excellent green manure crop - it enriches the soil with nitrogen. It is a good predecessor for arable and grain crops, accumulating about 150 kg of nitrogen in the soil in average per 1 hectare. Fibers for burlap and ropes are obtained from its stems.
It is widely applicable in folk medicine. It has anticonvulsant, anticoagulant, wound healing, fibrinolytic, carminative, diaphoretic, hypotensive, soothing, antiseptic, analgesic effect.