White Sweet Clover

White_Sweet_Clover_jpgThe pealike seeds of White Clover can be used to flavor soups and stews and the dried leaves of White Sweet Clover can be used as a vanilla flavoring for pastry. A serious outbreak of bleeding disease in cattle occurred in many states in 1921. Sweetclover hay had been subjected to unusually moist conditions that year and had molded. Molded sweetclover hay reduced a clotting factor in blood. In the affected animals, the wall of the digestive tract bleed uncontrollably and muscle bruises lead to large masses of blood collected beneath the skin.  Subsequently, scientific research identified the toxic compound as dicoumarin. Dicoumarin was soon found to be an effective anticoagulant for use in human medicine and one of its earliest applications, while still an experimental compound, was for President Eisenhower when he suffered a heart attack during the time he was in office.Generally, the Clovers are not among the choicest of wild food; however, Clovers are rich in protein.  The flowerheads and tender young leaves can be eaten if soaked for several hours in salty water or boiled 5-10 minutes.  The dried flowerheads make a healthful tea, usually mixed with other teas.  The dried flowerheads can also be ground into a nutritious flour.


White Sweet Clover


Melilotus alba






Annual or Biennial


2 to 8 feet


August to October


Nova Scotia to Mexico ~ Statewide in NJ


Early June to mid-September


Tiny pealike flowers on long tapering spikes, white or yellow, numerous ~ Pods oval or round, 1-4 seeded ~ Leaves in 3 leaflets, narrow, oblong ~ Crushed leaves have sweet aroma similar to vanilla