E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Melilotus albus Medik.
white sweet-clover
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4721)

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Distribution of Melilotus albus
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Species Information

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Annual or biennial herb from a taproot, sweet-scented in drying; stems erect, 0.5-2 m tall, freely branched, fine short-hairy to glabrous.
Alternate, pinnately compound; leaflets 3, oblong-elliptic to egg-shaped, 1-4 cm long, short-hairy to glabrous, the margins fine-toothed to the base; stipules entire or lobed, 5-10 mm long, joined at the base to the leaf stalk.
Inflorescence a slender, spike-like, axillary raceme of 20 to 50 or more pea-like flowers, the racemes 5-20 cm long on stalks from shorter to longer than the leaves; corollas white, 4-5 mm long, the banner longer than the wings; calyces bell-shaped, 2-3.5 mm long, the narrowly lanceolate teeth nearly equal to the tube.
Pods, egg-shaped, somewhat flattened but still plump, nodding, 3-6 mm long, somewhat leathery, glabrous, net-veined, 1-chambered; seeds 1 or 2.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry fields, roadsides and waste places; common in S half of BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare to the W and N; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Melilotus albus

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 320 749 1449
Slope Gradient (%) 0 23 110
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
35 210 338
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(39), BWBS(3), ICH(9), IDF(34), MS(3), PP(9), SBPS(1)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Melilotus alba

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References