RIBBED MELILOT

COMMON MELILOT

Melilotus officinalis

(Formerly: Trigonella officinalis)
Pea Family [Fabaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
ribbed
smell
smell?new mown hay smell8mown hay  smell?hay
hay

12th July 2014, Wigg Island canal, nr Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
All along the banks of the canal. A tallish plant reaching up to 1.5m (the same height which Tall Melilot (Melilotus altissimus) reaches). Although both Golden Melilot (aka Tall Melilot) and Ribbed Melilot can both reach 1.5m high, Golden Melilot (aka Tall Melilot) is often contrarily shorter!!


12th July 2014, Wigg Island canal, nr Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
More like a many-branched bush here, but there is probably more than one plant here.


12th July 2014, Wigg Island canal, nr Runcorn, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Multi-branched stems each with a short narrow spike of yellow flowers atop.


5th Aug 2017, Hall Road, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Some specimens not as tall - growing in a little-used road.


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Park, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The flowers in long spikes open at the bottom of the spike before the top.
Leaves variable in size, but always with 3 elongated-oval leaflets, the two side ones maybe slightly shorter and with very short stalks than the terminal leaflet with its much longer stalk.


3rd Sept 2013, Samphire Hoe, Dover, Kent. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
The white flowers with brown sepal cups are past their best - their anthers are now visible and are going to seed - this is in September.


3rd Sept 2013, Samphire Hoe, Dover, Kent. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Leaflets cusped nearer the end with the teeth angled forwards. The flowering part of the stems are square in cross-section.


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Park, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Flowers near the summit are still in the flower-bud stage; yet to open whilst those further down have opened - meanwhile those flowers at the bottom are getting ready to go to seed or have already dropped off.


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Park, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Flowers nearer the top with long style protruding further than the shorter anthers; both curving upwards.


5th Aug 2017, Hall Road, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


5th Aug 2017, Hall Road, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The flower just north east of centre shows the identifying feature of Ribbed Melilot: the inner pair of petals, the keel, which is often slightly shorter than the two wings either side of it. There is only a millimetre difference between the lengths of the flowers of the otherwise very similar Tall Melilot (aka Golden Melilot) (Melilotus altissimus): Ribbed Melilot 5-7mm long; Tall Melilot 4-7mm long. These lengths are so similar that they should not be relied upon for ID. See ID below.


5th Aug 2017, Hall Road, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The banner, the largest of the 5 petals, is angled upwards.


5th Aug 2017, Hall Road, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The sepal with quite short teeth which only slightly modulated in length. Flowers on short stalks (pedicels). A short wiry ligule occurs where the pedicel emerges from the much thicker stem.


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Park, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


5th July 2014, Rimrose Valley Park, Sefton, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


Not to be semantically confused with : Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm).

Easily confused with : Flower

Hybridizes with : Flower

Some similarities to :

Slight resemblance to :

Superficial resemblance to :

Lookee-Likees :

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Fringed Water-Lily [a plant with similar name]

The dried plant smells of new mown hay and contains the coumarin DiCoumarol, which is a dimer from which rodenticides can be manufactured. As a phytoremediator it has been used to mop up dioxin contaminated land.

Identification:
The only reliable method of differentiating between the otherwise very similar Tall Melilot (aka Golden Melilot) (Melilotus altissimus) is the size, colour and pattern of lumps of the fruits. The fruits of Tall Melilot are 5-7mm long, black when ripe and either reticulated or transversely-ridged. Whereas those of Ribbed Melilot are shorter at only 3-5mm long, brown when ripe and just transversely ridged. Gather a few to examine and measure.

Ribbed Melilot is found scattered throughout the British Isles but mostly in central and southern regions (as is White Melilot). It is a naturalised neophyte.


  Melilotus officinalis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
family8pea family8Fabaceae family8Leguminosae
 BSBI maps
genus8melilotus
Melilotus
(Melilots)

RIBBED MELILOT

COMMON MELILOT

Melilotus officinalis

(Formerly: Trigonella officinalis)
Pea Family [Fabaceae]  

WildFlowerFinder Homepage