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
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.