country living, photography

Another beautiful weed

Meet the white sweetclover (Melilotus alba).  This member of the family Fabaceae (also known as legumes) was brought to North America sometime in the mid-1600s as a forage crop. It escaped it’s field confines and now thrives in waste and disturbed areas like roadsides, ditches and construction sites.

It’s beautiful to look at, but another devil weed if you’re a farmer or stockman.  White sweetclover degrades natural grassland communities by overtopping and shading native species. If the plant is harvested for hay and is not cured properly, it can contain coumarin, a substance toxic to animals. White sweetclover is visited by introduced honeybees, native solitary bees, wasps, and flies and associated with 28 plant viruses.  Each white sweetclover plant is capable of producing up to 350,000 seeds that can remain viable in the soil for up 80 years (that’s 4 scores for you Lincoln scholars).  In short, it is an unwelcome guest in Goshen County.  Unless you’re a weird photog.  Then it’s quite beautiful in the right light…


White Sweet Clover


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