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The Collaborative International Dictionary

n. erect annual or biennial plant grown extensively especially for hay and soil improvement [syn: melilot, sweet clover]


Melilotus, known as melilot, sweet-clover, and kumoniga (from the Cumans), is a genus in the family Fabaceae. Members are known as common grassland plants and as weeds of cultivated ground. Originally from Europe and Asia, it is now found worldwide.

This legume is commonly named for its sweet smell, which is due to the presence of coumarin in its tissues. Coumarin, though responsible for the sweet smell of hay and newly mowed grass, has a bitter taste, and, as such, possibly acts as a means for the plant to discourage consumption by animals. Fungi (including Penicillium, Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Mucor) can convert coumarin into dicoumarol, a toxic anticoagulant. Consequently, dicoumarol may be found in decaying sweet-clover, and was the cause of the so-called sweet-clover disease, recognized in cattle in the 1920s. A few varieties of sweet clover have been developed with low coumarin content and are safer for forage and silage.

Usage examples of "melilotus".

It is the more remarkable, because we shall meet with an analogous case in the leaves of the allied genus Melilotus, in which the terminal leaflet rotates at night so as to present one edge to the zenith and at the same time bends to one side, so that its upper surface comes into contact with that of one of the two now vertical lateral leaflets.

Leguminous genera, for instance, those of Hedysarum, Mimosa, Melilotus, etc.

The terminal leaflet of Melilotus likewise rotates, by which movement one of its lateral edges is directed upwards, and at the same time it moves either to the left or to the right, until its upper surface comes into contact with that of the lateral leaflet on the same side, which has likewise rotated on its own axis.

Melilotus rotates and moves to one side until it meets the lateral leaflet on the same side.

Preliminary sketch of the sleep or nyctitropic movements of leaves--Presence of pulvini--The lessening of radiation the final cause of nyctitropic movements--Manner of trying experiments on leaves of Oxalis, Arachis, Cassia, Melilotus, Lotus and Marsilea and on the cotyledons of Mimosa--Concluding remarks on radiation from leaves--Small differences in the conditions make a great difference in the result Description of the nyctitropic position and movements of the cotyledons of various plants--List of species--Concluding remarks--Independence of the nyctitropic movements of the leaves and cotyledons of the same species--Reasons for believing that the movements have been acquired for a special purpose.

Trigonella Cretica resembles a Melilotus in its sleep, which will be immediately described.

But it does not twist itself like the corresponding first simple leaf of Melilotus.