Yellow Sweet Clover
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Yellow Sweet Clover
ative Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Yellow Sweet Clover, kings-clover, sweet clover, sweet lucerne, yellow melilot • Hindi: aspurk • Sanskrit: sprkka • Urdu: akleel-ul-mulk, aspurk, haleenothus
Botanical name: Melilotus officinalis    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)

Yellow Sweet Clover is an annual or biennial plant, 2-7 ft tall. Larger plants branch frequently and are somewhat bushy in appearance, while shorter plants are less branched and rather lanky. The stems are usually more or less erect, although sometimes they sprawl across the ground. They are hairless, furrowed, and angular, sometimes the lower stems are ribbed light red. Alternately arranged trifoliate leaves are hairless. Each leaflet is about 1.8 cm long and 6 mm across. It is oblong, oblanceolate, or obovate in shape, and toothed along the middle or upper margin. The terminal leaflet has a short stalk, while the lateral leaflets are nearly stalkless. The leaf-stalks are about 1.2 cm long, and there are a pair of small linear stipules at its base. Spike-like racemes of yellow flowers are abundantly produced from the axils of the middle to upper leaves, while the upper stems eventually terminate in such racemes. Each raceme is up to 6 inches long and has dozens of flowers. These flowers are loosely arranged along the raceme and somewhat drooping. They may occur along one or two sides of the raceme, or in whorls. Each flower is about 8 mm long and has a tendency to droop downward from the raceme, although curving upward toward its tip. The corolla has 5 yellow petals and is rather slender, consisting of a standard, keel, and two side petals. The tubular calyx is light green and has 5 pointed teeth. The blooming period can occur from late spring to early fall, peaking during early to mid-summer; a colony of plants will bloom for about 2 months. There is a mild floral fragrance. Each flower is replaced by a small seedpod with a beak that is flattened and contains 1-2 seeds. There are usually transverse ridges on each side that are somewhat curved. The tannish yellow seeds are somewhat flattened and ovoid-reniform in shape. Yellow Sweet Clover spreads by reseeding itself, and it often forms colonies at favorable sites. The sweet hay-like aroma of the foliage is caused by coumarin. In India, Yellow Sweet Clover is found in Kashmir and N. Punjab.
Medicinal uses: Yellow Sweetclover is considered to be an antibacterial, anticoagulant, astringent, laxative, carminative and emollient. The plant is very helpful in removing gas from the digestive system and in inducing urination. It can improve blood circulation, and be of great help in treatments of varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It can also be helpful in treatments of wounds, cuts and bruises. Used in form of a tea, Yellow Sweetclower is beneficial in cases of nervous tensions, painful menstruation, insomnia and palpitations.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale
Photographed near Hemis Monastery, Ladakh.
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