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Useful Temperate Plants

Melilotus altissimus

Thuill.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Melilotus adriaticus Borbas

Melilotus linearis Pers.

Melilotus macrorrhizus Pers.

Melilotus palustris Schult.

Common Name: Tall Melilot

No Image.

General Information

Melilotus altissimus is a biennial to short-lived perennial plant growing from a thick rootstock; the erect stems are up to 150cm tall[
1145
Title
AgroAtlas
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line database of economic plants of Russia and the surrounding countries that formed the USSR, giving botanical descriptions, distribution, habitats and uses. It also gives comprehensive information on climate, soil, pests, diseases etc
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It has been cultivated as a food and medicinal plant in China[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Known Hazards

The plant contains coumarin, a substance produced by the plant because it acts as an appetite suppressant and gives some protection from grazing - it is also the compound that gives some dried plants the smell of new mown hay. Coumarin is found naturally in many fruits, including strawberries, black currants, apricots, and cherries; it also has some medicinal applications, though it is also known to be toxic, affecting especially the liver and kidneys. Coumarin is of relatively low toxicity to humans – indeed it has often been used as a flavouring and aromatic additive in foods and other commodities. However, it can be much more toxic to other species, especially rodents and specifically rats.
The fresh plant material, consumed in moderation, is generally safe. However, the dried plant material, especially if it is not dried properly and is invaded by fungi, is potentially much more toxic as the coumarin breaks down to form other compounds that can have a strongly anticoagulant effect upon the blood. Warfarin, a well-known anticoagulant drug and rat poison, is one of those compounds produced from coumarin.

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.

Range

Found throughout most of Europe excluding Britain, Finland, the Baltic States and Belarus

Habitat

Waste places and woods, avoiding acid soils[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
]. Wet meadows and pastures, at watersides, roadsides, in inhabited areas[
1145
Title
AgroAtlas
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line database of economic plants of Russia and the surrounding countries that formed the USSR, giving botanical descriptions, distribution, habitats and uses. It also gives comprehensive information on climate, soil, pests, diseases etc
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitBiennial/Perennial
Height1.20 m
PollinatorsBees
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details


Melilotus species require a sunny position. They can succeed in a range of soil types, so long as they are well-drained, often being found where the soil pH is somewhat alkaline and generally disliking acid conditions.
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

Leaves and seedpods - cooked as a 'bean soup'[
8
Title
Free for All.
Publication
 
Author
Ceres.
Publisher
Thorsons Publishers
Year
1977
ISBN
0-7225-0445-4
Description
Edible wild plants in Britain. Small booklet, nothing special.
].

Young shoots - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[
8
Title
Free for All.
Publication
 
Author
Ceres.
Publisher
Thorsons Publishers
Year
1977
ISBN
0-7225-0445-4
Description
Edible wild plants in Britain. Small booklet, nothing special.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Also used as a flavouring[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
]. Only eat the fresh plant, it becomes toxic if it is dried[
62
Title
A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T. and Dykeman. P.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold
Year
1982
ISBN
0442222009
Description
Very readable.
].

Medicinal

The seeds are used to treat colds[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Other Uses

The dried plant is used as a moth repellent[
53
Title
The Wild Garden.
Publication
 
Author
De. Bray. L.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Interesting reading.
].
The aromatic leaves are used to scent cosmetics[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow spring to mid-summer in situ[
87
Title
Green Manures.
Publication
 
Author
Woodward. L. Burge. P.
Publisher
Elm Farm Research Centre.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Green manure crops for temperate areas. Quite a lot of information on a number of species.
]. Pre-soaking the seed for 12 hours in warm water will speed up the germination process, particularly in dry weather[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Germination will usually take place within 2 weeks.
The seed produced by biennial species in this genus can have either hard or soft seedcoats. Soft-coatd seeds germinate quickly without treatment, but hard-coated seeds can remain dormant in the soil for several years before germinating. In cultivation, the hard-coated seed requires pre-soaking in warm water in order to soften the seedcoat[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2019-08-19. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Melilotus+altissimus>

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