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  White sweet clover  

Department of Natural Resources

Illinois Exotic Species:

white sweet clover Melilotus alba

White sweet clover is a biennial or annual herb that grows from fibrous roots. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem. Each compound leaf has three leaflets, which are about one inch in length. Leaflets are toothed, lance-shaped and smooth or hairy. Stems are upright, branched and smooth. White flowers are clustered on spikes. A spike may be four inches long. The five-petaled flowers are attached to a short stalk. The fruit is a pod which is less than one-sixth inch long and slightly hairy. White sweet clover may attain a height of two to eight feet. White sweet clover may be found statewide in Illinois. It grows on bluffs, in old fields and along roads. Flowers are produced from May through October. Insects are the main agent of pollination. White sweet clover is a native of Europe and Asia. It was brought to the United States by European settlers and has spread tremendously.

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