White Sweet Clover

Biological Name:

Melilotus alba (White-Sweet-Clover)

Natural Habitat:

White sweet clover is a type of flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is typically found in areas with well-drained soils, such as fields, meadows, and along roadsides.


White-Sweet-Clover is a biennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. It has small white flowers and trifoliate leaves. It is often used as a cover crop or forage crop and is also used in traditional medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is white sweet clover invasive?
A: White and yellow sweetclovers are invasive species. Yellow and white sweetclover grow abundantly on disturbed lands, roadsides and abandoned fields. The plants degrade native grasslands by shading out sun-loving plants, reducing diversity.

Q: Does white clover stay green in winter?
A: Clover is considered semi-evergreen or evergreen, depending on the region in which it’s planted. It will retain its color through the summer (except in extreme drought) and can stay green year-round in areas where winters aren’t too cold, like in the southern U.S.

Q: What animals eat white sweet clover?
A: A legume, White Sweet Clover is favored for its nitrogen-fixing ability. Its flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies and in some areas it is a popular plant for honey production. Deer and rabbits are known to feed on White Sweet Clover and birds feed on the plant’s seeds.

Q: How do you control white sweet clover?
A: Sweet clover usually does not resprout when the stems are cut close to the ground during this time. Prescribed burning can control sweet clover. A combination of an April burn in the first year, followed by a May burn the following year is most successful in eradicating an even-aged stand of sweet clover.

Q: How long does it take white clover to spread?
A: It takes about 4 weeks for clover seed to mature after pollination.

Q: Does white clover spread on its own?
A: White clover (Trifolium repens L.) is a short-lived perennial that can reseed itself under favorable conditions, grows rapidly, and spreads via stolons.

Q: What is white sweet clover used for?
A: White Sweet Clover (Melilotus Alba) – Sweet clovers are widely used as erosion controls, ground cover, forage, and honey production. Clover is a legume and has nitrogen fixing capabilities, thereby improving soils for other crops. The plant is a biennial and was introduced to the United States in the 1700s.

Q: Is white clover good for the soil?
A: The extensive root system and ground cover capabilities of white clover keep soil from running off, keeping key nutrients in place. White clover is also used to help increase soil health because of its erosion protection and nitrogen fixation.

Q: Does white clover spread?
A: White clover has a creeping growth habit and spreads with stolons or “runners”” (Figure 1) above the soil with adventitious roots forming at each node. This type of growth pattern is one reason for the excellent grazing tolerance of white clover.”

Q: Can you eat white sweet clover?
A: The young leaves can be eaten raw, preferably before the plant blossoms. They are bitter and aromatic, usually used as flavoring in salads. The whole plant thoroughly dried can be used to make a tea with a hint of vanilla. The seeds can be used as a spice.

Q: Do bees like white sweet clover?
A: White Blossom Sweet Clover is one of the most popular bee attractant and nectar sources used in the US. White Blossom Sweet Clovers makes a very appealing, light colored honey. Sweet clover flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and many pollinating species.

Q: Is sweet clover good for the soil?
A: Sweet clover is renown for improving marginal soil by increasing the organic matter quickly. Plants are tolerant of heat and shading. Tap root is fairly aggressive and is able to loosen hard soils. Yellow blossom has very good winter hardiness.

Q: Does white clover attract pests?
A: Robert Kourik, an expert on edible landscaping writes that white clover (Trifolium repens) attracts “parasitic wasps of aphids

and whiteflies.”” But don’t panic; these are not the wasps that build nests in doorways and hover around picnics
and most of them cannot even sting a person; they are too small.”

Q: Does white clover attract bugs?
A: Ecologists often view grass as ill-suited for a habitat because it’s simply not diverse. That’s where clover comes in. Its nectar attracts bees and other important insects, such as parasitoid wasps (these wasps prey on harmful bugs).

Q: Is white clover a problem?
A: In fact, white Dutch clover is an indicator plant for low nitrogen – meaning that if you see it growing in your lawn, it probably means the soil is low in nitrogen. A well-timed application of organic spring lawn fertilizer can help bump up nitrogen levels (and reduce the amount of clover).

Q: Is white sweet clover a perennial?
A: White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba) Description: This annual or biennial plant is 3-8′ tall, branching occasionally and having a lanky appearance.

Q: Does white clover survive winter?
A: In the south, white clover serves well as a winter annual. In the north, white clover serves well as a perennial. White clover can be frost seeded as well, early in the morning when frost is in the soil. For late summer seeding, seed about 40 days before the first killing frost to allow establishment.

Q: How fast does white clover spread?
A: In favorable conditions, Dutch White Clover can reseed itself and spread. How fast it does depends on the soil and growing conditions. Depending on how much Dutch White Clover you want in your lawn, you may need to reseed it in 3-4 years.

Q: Does white clover turn brown in winter?
A: Clover is one of the first plants to grow in the spring and will stay green until the first frost of fall. When winter comes, the clover sprouts die back, but their root systems remain dormant in the ground.

Q: What time of year do you plant white clover?
A: Plant clover in the spring or early summer, when the ground has become soft and moist from the spring rains. You may also plant in September or early October in most locations. Clover seed is very small, so you may want to mix it with lime or fertilizer to give you more substance to work with.

Q: Does white clover last all summer?
A: Dutch white clover: Stays green all year round (depending on geographical area). Blooms when mature, providing food for bees. Does best with 4-6 hours of sun daily. Seeds at a rate of about 1lb per 1000 square feet.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.