Melilotus wolgicus Poir. - Russian melilot

Taxonomic position.

Family Leguminosae Endl., genus Melilotus Mill.

Biology and morphology.

Biennial herb. Taproot with well-developed, lateral branching, penetrating to a depth of 0.6 m. Stems are thin and tall (100-150 cm), well-branched, slightly pubescent in the upper part, light green or yellowish green with long internodes. Leaflets of lower leaves are ovate, of upper leaves elongated or linear lanceolate with rare serration (6-9 teeth on each side). Racemes short (5-12 cm), cylindrical with rare flower dislocation, 20-60 flowers per raceme. Flowers are small, 2.5-3.5 mm long on average. Single flower stalks and calyx have anthocyanin color. Corolla white, veins colored pink by anthocyanin, and some petals look pinkish. Pods ovate-oblong, 4.0-6.0 mm long, 2.2-2.6 mm wide, with reticulated, ridged coat, one- or two-seeded. Seeds are ovate-oblong, brownish yellow, maculated. This species is not pollinated well by bees; self-pollination is preferred. It has indeterminate flowering. Blossoms in June-September; seeds ripen in July-October. Chromosome number: 2n=16.


This is an endemic species of Russia and Kazakhstan. It grows in Russia in the middle and lower Volga river area (Samara and Saratov regions), the Don River area and in northwestern Kazakhstan.


It mainly grows in steppe zones in different soils and at different ground levels, in meadows and in fields. Grows singly or in small groups.

Utilization and economic value.

The plant is very drought- and salt-resistant and winter hardy. It has potential for cultivation. It is more productive than Melilotus albus. The high coumarin content makes it less palatable to livestock than some other legumes. It can produce soft hay. It possesses a wide range of prominent characteristics.

Reference citations:

Brezhnev D.D., Korovina O.N. 1980. Wild relatives of the cultivated plants of flora of the USSR. Leningrad: Kolos. 376 pp. (In Russian)
Grossheim A.A. 1945. Genus Melilotus. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 11. Moscow-Leningrad: USSR. 176-189 p. (In Russian)
Grossheim A.A. 1952. Genus Melilotus. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 5. Moscow- Leningrad: Academy of Science of the USSR. 192-194 p. (In Russian)
Pavlov N.B., ed. 1961. Flora of Kazakhstan. Vol. 5. Alma-Ata: AN KazSSR. 515 pp. (In Russian)
Phyodorov A.A., ed. 1987. Flora of the European part of the USSR. Vol. 6. 254 pp. (In Russian)
Suvorov V.V. 1950. Genus Melilotus. Flora of cultivated plants of the USSR. Vol. 13. Moscow-Leningrad. Issue 1. 345-502 p. (In Russian)

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