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Genus Melilotus Family Fabaceae
Subfamily Faboideae

Description: Annual, biennial or short-lived perennial herbs, glabrous.

Leaves pinnately 3-foliolate; leaflets finely toothed; stipules fused to petiole.

Inflorescences mostly axillary racemes; peduncle usually elongating in pod and mostly longer than subtending leaf; bracts minute or absent; bracteoles absent. Calyx with 5 ± equal teeth, persistent in pod. Standard obovate-oblong; keel blunt, equal to or shorter than the wings. Stamens diadelphous; anthers uniform. Ovary with 2–8 ovules.

Pod ± globose to ovoid, indehiscent, longer than calyx; seeds usually 1 or 2, without an obvious aril.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 25 species, temperate regions. Australia: 4 species (naturalized), all States.

Text by E. H. Norris
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Racemes 3–12-flowered, shorter than subtending leaves; pods more or less ovoid, acute, 5–8 mm long, concentrically ridged; stipules prominently toothedMelilotus siculus
Racemes 10–100-flowered, longer than subtending leaves; pods more or less globose, obtuse, 2–5 mm long, reticulate- to transversely-wrinkled; stipules more or less bristle-like and entire or broader and toothed towards base2
2Flowers 2–3 mm long; pods c. 2 mm long; stipules more or less lanceolate, dilated and toothed towards base; annualMelilotus indicus
Flowers 5–7 mm long; pods 3–5 mm long; stipules bristle-like and entire; biennial
                       Back to 1
3
3Flowers yellow; fruiting racemes mostly 5–10 cm longMelilotus officinalis
Flowers white; fruiting racemes 10–25 cm long
                       Back to 2
Melilotus albus

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