A fragrant herbaceous plant of the pea family, native to Eurasia and north Africa, now widespread and sometimes grown as forage or green manure.
Genus Melilotus, family Leguminosae: several species, especially the white sweet clover (M. alba)‘The Chinese use yellow melilot medicinally, use it in cosmetics, and burn it as an incense.’Also called sweet clover
- ‘There are 25 species of clovers and trefoils (Trifolium spp.), eight species of medic and alfalfa (Medicago spp.), and three species of melilots.’
- ‘Other fodder plants introduced from Europe include the yellow or white melilots,, which may be seen in mid to late summer on the Sawston by-pass, and a larger form of Bird's foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus ssp.var. sativa) which often grows nearly a metre high on the South Down.’
Middle English from Old French, via Latin from Greek melilōtos ‘honey lotus’.