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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 10 | Fabaceae

161. Melilotus (Linnaeus) Miller, Gard. Dict. Abr., ed. 4. 1754.

草木犀属 cao mu xi shu

Melilotus officinalis

Credit: Harvard University Herbaria

Trifolium [unranked] Melilotus Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 764. 1753 ["Meliloti"]; Brachylobus Dulac.

Annual or biennial herbs, taprooted, upright. Leaves pinnately 3-foliolate; stipules entire or nearly so, basally adnate to petiole; leaflets serrulate, lateral veins ending in teeth; stipels absent. Racemes axillary, slender, elongate; flowers numerous; bracts minute; bracteoles absent. Calyx teeth subequal. Corolla yellow or white, petals free from staminal tube, deciduous; standard ovate-oblong; wings narrowly oblong; keel broadly falcate. Stamens diadelphous; filaments capillary. Ovary sessile or shortly stipitate; ovules 2-8; style filiform, curved upward, often persistent. Legume obovoid or globose, slightly exserted from calyx, surface reticulate veined or wrinkled. Seeds 1 or 2, broadly ovoid, smooth or papillate.

About 20 species: temperate and subtropical N Africa, Asia, and Europe; four species in China.

These are fragrant herbs grown as green manure, forage crops, or bee plants.

1 Flowers white.   1 M. albus
+ Flowers yellow   (2)
2 (1) Flowers up to 3 mm, pedicels less than 1 mm; legumes globose, ca. 2 mm.   4 M. indicus
+ Flowers (3-)7 mm, pedicels 1.5 mm or more; legumes ovoid-elliptic, 3-5 mm   (3)
3 (2) Stipules lanceolate, base hastate and split into several teeth or incised; leaflets serrate, teeth 15-20 on a side.   3 M. dentatus
+ Stipules linear-falcate, base entire or with 1 minute tooth; leaflets obscurely to strongly serrate, teeth fewer than 15 on a side.   2 M. officinalis

Lower Taxa


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