Melilotus indicus (L.) All. - Indian melilot.

Taxonomic position.

Family Fabaceae Lindl., genus Melilotus Mill.

Main synonyms:

Melilotus parviflorus Desf.; Trifolium M. indicus L.

Morphology and biology.

Annual plant. Stem straight or flexuous, 0.5 m tall, covered with short adpressed hairs, branching from the base. Stipules narrow, broadened at the base, lanceolate, entire, 4-6 mm long. Lower leaves obovate or cuneate. Upper leaves oblong-cuneate. Leaves beneath covered with short adpressed hairs. Leaf margins dentate, with 5-9 denticles at each side of the leaf. Inflorescence a raceme 1-3 cm long, elongating when flowering up to 5 cm. Pedicels 0.5-1 mm long. Flowers about 2-3 mm long, light yellow or nearly white. Calyx 1-1.5 mm long, incised down to half. Calyx teeth obtuse. Standard and keel of the same length, wings shorter. Ovary glabrous, 2 times shorter than style, with two ovules. Pods 2 mm long, yellow-brown, subspherical. Pod valves with transverse flexuous veins, later pitted. Seeds smooth, 1.5 mm long, yellowish-brownish, finely tuberculate, 1 or 2 in each pod. Flowers in April, fruits in May - June. Entomophilous. Zoochore. 2n=16.


Mediterranean (from Canary Islands to India). Introduced in the countries of the Southern Hemisphere, tropical zone and North America. Former USSR - Crimea (Sevastopol environs, solitary), North Caucasus (Daghestan, Derbent), eastern part of East Transcaucasia, Central Asia - mountains.


Weed in irrigated crops, near waterbodies, in river valleys, on seaside sands, in inhabited areas, at roads, on exposed stony-debris slopes.

Use and economic value.

Wild relative of cultivated species M. albus and M. officinalis. Prospective for use as forage plant.


Galushko AI. 1980. Flora of the North Caucasus: Handbook. V.2. P.130-131. (In Russian).
Grossheim AA. 1952. Flora of Caucasus. 2nd ed. V.5. P.192-194. (In Russian).
Doronina AYu. 2007. Vascular plants of the Karelian Isthmus (Leningrad Region). Moscow: KMK. (In Russian).
Fedorov AA., Tzvelev NN., ed. 1987. Flora of the European part of the USSR. V.6. Leningrad: Nauka. P.179, 182. (In Russian).
Shishkin BK., ed. 1945. Flora URSS. V.11. P.189. (In Russian).
Tzvelev NN. 2000. Manual of the vascular plants of North-West 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).

© T.N.Smekalova

Photo © Richard Old, 1,000 Weeds of North America CD

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