USD 1926 (1)
Potters Cyclopedia 1988 (2)
Compiled and edited by Ivor Hughes

(1) USD 1926. MELILOTUS. N.F.
MELILOT Melilot. [Yellow Melilot, Yellow Sweet Clover]

Melilot consists of the dried leaf and flowering top of Melilotus officinalis (Linne) Lamarck (Fam. Leguminosae). Melilot contains not more than 3 per cent, of its stems over 3 mm. in diameter, or other foreign organic matter." N.F.

An annual or biennial plant indigenous to Europe but naturalized in the United States, where it frequently abounds on waste ground and in fields. It bears alternate, trifoliate leaves with obovate to oblong leaflets whose apex is either rounded, truncate or slightly notched and margin closely serrate The flowers are small and yellow, occurring in spicate racemes. The fruit is an obovate, one-seeded legume. The plant, when in flower, has a peculiar sweet odor, which, by drying, becomes stronger and more agreeable, somewhat like that of the tonka bean.

Description and Physical Properties. � Unground Melilot.� Stems mostly less than 3 dm. in length, slender, straight, mostly simple, often leafy below, terminating in long slender racemes, the younger portions very finely pubescent; leaves glabrous or nearly so; petiolate, trifoliate, stipulate, the stipules subulate, entire, the leaflets, from 1 to 3 cm. in length, varying from narrowly oblong to oval or occasionally broader above the middle, rounded, truncate, or slightly notched at the summit, sharply serrate; racemes 1 dm. or less in length, many flowered, the flowers yellow, from 5 to 6 mm. in length; calyx bell-shaped, the five, nearly equal lobes shorter than the tube, corolla papilionaceous, the keel shorter than the other petals, which are about equal; legumes reflexed, from 2.5 to 3.5 mm. in length, obovate, wrinkled, one-seeded. Odor aromatic, tonka-like; taste sweetish, slightly pungent and bitter.

Powdered Melilot. � Light green; numerous uniseriate, 3-celled non-glandular hairs from 0.130 to 0.385 mm. in length, the two lower cells usually small. and thin-walled, the upper cell much elongated, pointed and with thick, roughly spinose walls; fragments of leaf tissue composed of epidermal cells with broadly elliptical stomata the latter from 0.020 to 0.035 mm. in length; fragments composed of chlorenchyma and fibro-vaseular tissue associated with crystal fibers containing prisms of calcium oxalate, the latter from 0.010 to 0.020 mm. in length; portions of stem tissue composed of wood and pith parenchyma, fibers and trachea with spiral markings or simple pores; pollen grains ellipsoidal, from 0.022 to 0.032 mm. in diameter; occasional glandular hairs consisting of 2- to 3-celled stalks and multicellular heads." N. F. The pleasant odor of melilotus is due to the presence of coumarin (see Coumarinum). It is present in melilot, combined with melilotic (hydrocoumaric-) acid, C9H10O3 and coumaric acid, C9H8O3, of which latter acid coumarin is the anhydride.

Uses. � Melilotus has been attributed with analgesic properties and consequently employed in neuralgias. The evidence of any therapeutic virtue, however, is far from convincing.

Off. Prep.� Species Emollientes, N. F.

Editors Note; The American National Formulary (NF) was published by the American Pharmaceutical Association. U.S. Federal Law of 1906 made it a legal standard for medicines in the USA. The dosage and preparation may be found by entering �Species Emollientes, N. F.� into the site search box at the top right hand of the page. The American National Formulary as published by the USD 1926 may be found in full on the main site. The plant has a very long empirical history in Europe. The empirical use is fully supported by the list of constituents of the monograph in Potters Cyclopedia 1988.  The dose of fluid extract is usually given as 0.5 to 1 drm.

� Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pallas.

Fam. Leguminosae
Synonyms: Ribbed Melilot, Common Melilot, King's Clover, Yellow Sweet Clover, M. arvensis Willd.
Habitat: Grows on bare and waste ground throughout Europe.
Description: An erect biennial reaching up to about 1 m. Leaves pinnately trifoliate, the upper ones being longer and narrowed at both ends. The yellow flowers are in axillary racemes, typically papilionaceous with the keel shorter than the wings, 5 - 6 cm long. The pod is 3-5 mm long, ribbed and hairless. Odour, like new-mown hay, due to the coumarin.
Part Used: Herb.

Constituents: (i) Coumarin derivatives; the glycoside melilotoside, which hydrolyses on drying to produce free coumarin, dihydrocoumarin, melilotin, melilotic acid and melilotol. Dicoumarol (= melitoxin) is produced when melilot has spoiled and fermentation has taken place (386, 339, 923] (ii) Flavonoids; robinin and others [924], tannin etc.

Medicinal Use: Aromatic, carminative, spasmolytic. Flower and leaf extracts have shown analgesic activity, prolongation in pentobarbital induced hypnosis time and smooth muscle relaxant activity in mice; they are also hypotensive and vasodilatory in rabbits [925]. Dicoumarol is a potent anticoagulant and should be present only at very low levels.

See also Red Clover.