Fabaceae Melilotus officinalis

Long dark green stems with bright neon green flowers lining them.

Melilotus officinalis

Family: Fabaceae (A Utah Flora – Leguminosae) – Pea Family

Annual, winter annual or biennial herbs from a taproot; stems 1.6' to 4.9' (5 to 15 dm) tall or more

Leaves: alternate; compound; leaflets 0.32” to 1.52” (8 to 38 mm) long, 0.12” to 0.64” (3 to 16 mm) wide; can have hairs; toothed

Flowers: 5 yellow petals (a banner, 2 wings and 2 keels); 5 sepals; bisexual; 5-10 stamens, 1 pistil; bisexual; flowers 0.18” to 0.28” (4.5 to 7 mm) long

Pollinators: bees

Fruits: legume

Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June, July, August

Habitat in Arches National Park: widespread in disturbed areas and open sites

Location seen: Delicate Arch road

Other: The genus name, “Melilotus”, means “honey plant” referring to the use of the plant by the honey industry. The species name, “officinalis”, refers to the fact that it was sold as an herb. It has been used in medicine, used in teas to treat intestinal worms or earaches or used as a poultice for swollen joints.

This plant was introduced from Europe.

This family is ranked second to grasses in importance to people because species can fix nitrogen. However, some species, e.g., locoweeds and milkvetches, are poisonous due to selenium abstracted from the soil.

Last updated: January 7, 2023

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