One of the herbs that you can find in nature, and that is part of the species that populate the Mediterranean, as well as North Africa, Europe and Macaronesia, is Melilotus indicus . This plant, which is also present in America, Australia and Asia, is not very well known.
But if you want to know a little about it and learn more about Melilotus indicus , its uses and some curiosities, pay attention to what we have prepared for you.
Characteristics of the Melilotus indicus
The first thing you should know is that Melilotus indicus is usually known by many other names, not this botanical. Many elders and townspeople refer to it as sweet clover, sweet clover, royal crown, sweet wagon, annual yellow sweet clover, narrow king’s crown, sweet sweet clover, lesser clover, alfafilla, or little flower sweet clover.
If we were to translate the two words that make up its botanical name, we would find that ” Melilotus ” means “honey lotus”, while ” indicus ” refers to India.
Its original habitat is the Mediterranean, emerging both in Europe and in East Asia. However, naturalization has been achieved in other countries.
The Melilotus indicus can reach a height of 30 to 50 centimeters. Its stem is quite sharp and has leaves, with lanceolate leaflets that can reach 1-2cm long and 3-5mm wide.
But perhaps the most characteristic thing, and what this plant draws attention to, is its flowers. These appear as clusters between 3 and 5 centimeters long, with small but very diverse flowers, always of a yellow color. After the flowers, the fruits appear, which is a small, round legume with striations, from a single seed.
Currently, you can find the Melilotus indicus in Alicante, Barcelona, Castellón, Girona, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Tarragona … They are scattered in other areas of the Mediterranean. And it is that its natural habitat is the fields of cultivation as well as in bushes, gutters, meadows, mountains …
Care Melilotus indicus
Despite the fact that this herb is not very showy and that many would not pay attention to it, due to the uses it has, and that we will see below, some do grow it. Now, it has some needs that must be met so that it can develop properly.
This herb is very “picky” about sunlight. It does not tolerate shade and loves being directly in the sun, as it is the only way for it to grow and develop properly.
Depending on how much it is exposed to the sun, the soil, the season of the year … it will have a more or less abundant watering. The important thing in this case is that there is humidity around it, without ever reaching the puddles, since that would kill the plant.
The Melilotus indicus needs a soil having a pH neutral or alkaline. You need this soil to be sandy, clay or loamy, because they are the best to develop and because they are soils that can be kept dry or humid according to the needs of the plant.
The Melilotus indicus blooms during the spring and summer , particularly from April to September.
Plagues and diseases
There are no known pests or diseases that could affect it. It is not a plant that is very resistant, but so far there are no detailed conclusions about the problems of diseases and / or pests that put the health of this herb at risk.
Uses of Melilotus indicus
Melilotus indicus is clearly not a very “decorative” plant. You will not find it in a pot adorning a terrace or in the gardens. And yet, it will be present in various crops such as wheat, beets, corn, cotton, citrus, asparagus, chickpeas, tomato or grapes, among many others. Keep in mind that this presence can be dangerous. For example, in the case of wheat, due to its presence of coumarin (which makes it very odorous when it dries) it can cause the smell to be transmitted to the cereal, and from there to the grains and flour.
In some countries, such as Argentina, it is considered an agricultural pest.
However, it must be borne in mind that Melilotus indicus is good for growing soil. And it is because it is capable of adding nitrogen to the soil, a very important component for the proper growth of plants. Not only does it improve the soil, it also makes nutrients more available. And it is that, in general, all clovers are very valuable to take care of the soil, and they are one of the plants that is used to rotate the cultivated fields in order to ‘heal’ those soils. In this case, this would also happen.
However, this use is not the only one. It is known to have medicinal properties. For example, it is a good anticoagulant, as a laxative, an emollient, to create poultices, as an astringent and a narcotic. Not much is known about it, so if it is used, you have to be very careful since there is not much information about how it should be prepared for these uses (if it is in infusion, if the leaf, stem, or flowers should be crushed , etc.).
Finally, it can be consumed, which are the seeds. It is used mainly in feeding animals, and is almost always mixed with other plants. Some have tried to eat its leaves or even the seeds, but there is no evidence that it is good or that we can find it in stores (such as lentils or other legumes).
Despite the fact that there is not much information on Melilotus indicus , there is no doubt that at the farmer level it is known for the contribution of nutrients that it gives to cultivated fields. For this reason, the use of this form is the one that is most widespread.
Now that you know a little more about Melilotus indicus , would you dare to see it in person? And look for it to help you complement your lawn or your artificial garden and make it stand out as a more “natural” little plant?