Clover and Melilot

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

clover and melilot leguminous plants which have leaves growing in groups of three, go together. Their main use is in feeding animals and providing nectar for bees; but although their importance for human food is thus at one remove it is considerable.

The common clovers, especially Trifolium repens, are among the most widely distributed and nutritious forage legumes of the world. The ‘sweetclovers’, of the genus Melilotus are among those favoured by honey bees. They also serve other purposes, for example as flavourings for certain soups, breads, and cheeses. The Swiss green cheese schabziger is usually flavoured and coloured by several herbs; exactly which is hard to determine, but M. officinalis and blue melilot, Trigonella caerulea, a species said to have been brought to Switzerland from Asia Minor by returning Crusaders (Montandon, 1980), are often cited.