PULSE FAMILY - Leguminosae: White Sweet Clover; Bokhara or Tree Clover; White Melilot; Honey Lotus
Flowers--Small, white, fragrant, papilionaceous, the standard petal a trifle longer than the wings; borne in slender racemes. Stem: 3 to 10 ft. tall, branching. Leaves: Rather distant, petioled, compounded of 3 oblong, saw-edged leaflets; fragrant, especially when dry.
Preferred Habitat--Waste lands, roadsides.
Distribution--United States, Europe, Asia.
Both the White and the Yellow Sweet Clover put their leaves to sleep at night in a remarkable manner: the three leaflets of each leaf twist through an angle of 90 degrees, until one edge of each vertical blade is uppermost. The two side leaflets, Darwin found, always tend to face the north with their upper surface, one facing north-northwest and the other north-northeast, while the terminal leaflet escapes the chilling of its sensitive upper surface through radiation by twisting to a vertical also, but bending to either east or west, until it comes in contact with the vertical upper surface of either of the side leaflets. Thus the upper surface of the terminal and of at least one of the side leaflets is sure to be well protected through the night; one is "left out in the cold."
The dried branches of sweet clover will fill a room with delightful
fragrance; but they will not drive away flies, nor protect woollens
from the ravages of moths, as old women once taught us to believe.
The ubiquitous White or Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens), whose creeping branches send up solitary round heads of white or pinkish flowers on erect, leafless stems, from May to December, in fields, open waste land, and cultivated places throughout our area, Europe, and Asia, devotes itself to wooing bees, since these are the only insects that effect cross-fertilization regularly, other visitors aiding it only occasionally. Its foliage is the favorite food of very many species of caterpillars and of all grazing cattle the world around. This is still another plant frequently miscalled shamrock. Good luck or bad attends the finding of the leaves, when compounded of an even or an odd number of leaflets more than the normal count, according to the saying of many simple-minded folk.