Botanist's Glossary

Sweet Clover - Melilotus officinalis

  • Description
    • Sweet clover (Fabaceae family) is a herbaceous biennial that grows to a height of 50 to 120 cm. It has a branched stem, trifoliate leaves and small yellow flowers. It grows in wasteland and around cultivated fields, in dry soil. The word "melilotus" is an allusion to honey (in Latin mel, melis = honey) as it is a nectar plant.
  • Traditions
    • In the past, sweet clover was used for its antispasmodic properties and anti-inflammatory effect on the eyes. Today it is used as a phlebotonic. The entire plant (particularly when it is dry) gives off a distinctive smell that comes from one of the substances in the plant: coumarin. This "gingerbread" aroma is very popular in perfumery.
  • Properties
    • Distilled clover flower water is used in the manufacture of refreshing and softening lotions such as cleansers. This floral water possesses astringent and anti-redness properties, ideal for sensitive and fragile skin.