Melilotus altissimus Thuill. - Tall melilot.

Taxonomic position.

Family Fabaceae Lindl., genus Melilotus L.

Main synonyms:

M. macrorrhizus Pers.

Morphology and biology.

Biennial plant with thick root, 0.5 to 1.5 m and more tall. Stems straight or arcuate. Stipules 5-8 mm long, narrow, subulate, entire, those of lower leaves sometimes with a short denticle. Upper leaves oblong, lower obovate. All leaves narrowed toward the base, with 8-20 denticles in the upper part at each side of the leaf. Leaves beneath densely covered with short adpressed hairs to subglabrous. Inflorescence a raceme 2-5 cm long, with 15-50 flowers. Pedicels 1.5-2 mm long, hairy. Flowers 5-7 mm long. Calyx 2.5 mm long, hairy, incised down to half into triangular lobes. Corolla golden-yellow. Standard oboval, with brown stripes, almost as long as keel and wings. Ovary sessile, lanceolate, with 2-3 ovules, style slightly curved, almost as long as ovary or longer. Pods 3.5-5 mm long, 2.5-3 mm wide, about 1.5 mm thick, pendant, rhomboid, compressed along ventral suture, darkening. Pod valves reticulately wrinkled, covered with rigid hairs. Seeds fawn-colored, slightly tuberculate, about 2 mm long. Flowers in July, fruits in September. 2n=16.


General distribution: Atlantic and Central Europe, Western Mediterranean. Former USSR: European part - Ladoga-Ilmen, Volga-Kama, Upper Dniester, Middle Dnieper, Volga-Don, Transvolga and Lower Volga regions. In the West Siberia in Barnaul environs there is a single adventive locality.


In wet meadows and pastures, at watersides, at roads, in inhabited areas.

Use and economic value.

Wild relative of cultivated species, white and ribbed melilots.


Fedorov AA., Tzvelev NN., ed. 1987. Flora of the European part of the USSR. V.6. Leningrad: Nauka. P.179, 181. (In Russian).
Shishkin BK., ed. 1945. Flora URSS. V.11. P.184-187. (In Russian).
Tzvelev NN. 2000. Manual of the vascular plants of Northwest Russia (Leningrad, Pskov and Novgorod Regions). St.Petersburg: State Chemical-Pharmaceutical Academy Press. P.486. (In Russian).
Cherepanov SK. 1995. Vascular plants of Russia and adjacent states (the former USSR). St.Petersburg. 990 p. (In Russian).

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© Photo by I.G.Chukhina

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