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Melilotus albus - Medik.                
                 
Common Name White Melilot
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
Synonyms
Known Hazards Dried leaves can be toxic though the fresh leaves are quite safe[76]. This is due to the presence of coumarin, the substance that gives some dried plants the smell of new mown hay. Taken internally it can prevent the blood from clotting[207].
Habitats Fields and waste places on dry, not acid soils[17].
Range Europe to W. Asia. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Melilotus albus is a ANNUAL/BIENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) at a fast rate.
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Melilotus albus White Melilot


Melilotus albus White Melilot
http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en
   
Habitats       
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Oil.

Leaves and seedpods - cooked as a 'bean soup'[8, 105, 172]. The pea-like seeds are used as a seasoning for bean and split-pea soups[183]. Young shoots - raw or cooked[8, 172]. Added to salads or used as a potherb[183]. Only fresh shoots should be used[62], the dried leaves contain coumarin[207]. Flowers - raw or cooked[172]. Used as a vanilla-like flavouring[177, 183]. The dried leaves are said to be used as a vanilla flavouring[172] but this is probably unwise, see notes at top of the page.
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anticoagulant;  Aromatic;  Carminative;  Emollient;  Poultice.

The whole herb, harvested when in flower, is aromatic, carminative and emollient[4]. It was at one time widely esteemed as a medicinal herb, though it has fallen from favour in recent times[4]. The dried leaves contain coumarin, this can be used as an anticlotting agent for the blood[207]. The dried flowering plant has been used in ointments for external ulcers[222].
Other Uses
Green manure;  Oil;  Repellent.

An oil obtained from the seed is used in paints, varnishes etc[114]. The dried leaves smell of new-mown hay and are used as an insect repellent[172]. The dried leaves contain a substance called coumarin, this is an anti-clotting agent and has been used as a basis of the rat killer 'warfarin'[207]. The plant is a good green manure crop[20, 87, 172]. It can be sown in the autumn and overwintered or sown from spring to mid summer. It can be cut several times for compost material before being finally incorporated into the soil[87]. Fast growing, it produces a high bulk of organic material and also fixes a large quantity of atmospheric nitrogen[87]. It can also be grown under soft and top fruit, when it will expel mice[82].
Cultivation details                                         
A fast growing plant[87], it dislikes shade. A good bee plant[4, 46]. The dried plant has a sweet smell of newly mown hay[245]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow spring to mid-summer in situ[87]. Pre-soaking the seed for 12 hours in warm water will speed up the germination process, particularly in dry weather[K]. Germination will usually take place within 2 weeks.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
Medik.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
17
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[8]Ceres. Free for All.
Edible wild plants in Britain. Small booklet, nothing special.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[62]Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Very readable.
[82]Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America.
Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader.
[87]Woodward. L. Burge. P. Green Manures.
Green manure crops for temperate areas. Quite a lot of information on a number of species.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[114]Chakravarty. H. L. The Plant Wealth of Iraq.
It is surprising how many of these plants can be grown in Britain. A very readable book on the useful plants of Iraq.
[172]Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[207]Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers.
A nice read, lots of information on plant uses.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[245]Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World.
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.

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