Skip to main content Accessibility help

Invasive White Sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) Control with Herbicides, Cutting, and Flaming

  • Jeffery S. Conn (a1) and Steven S. Seefeldt (a1)


White sweetclover is invading the Alaska glacial river floodplains and roadsides adjacent to natural areas, and control methods are needed. Chlorsulfuron, 2,4-DB, clopyralid, triclopyr, and 2,4-D controlled white sweetclover seedlings below recommended rates in the greenhouse. Biomass of established plants in the field was reduced by chlorsulfuron at recommended (17.6 g ai/ha), 1/2, and 1/4 rates and was reduced by triclopyr and 2,4-D at recommended rates (1,260 and 1,600 g ai/ha). Herbicides were more effective at reducing white sweetclover viable seed production in 2007 than in 2006. Only chlorsulfuron at 17.6 g ai/ha (recommended rate) eliminated seed production in both years. Flaming killed first-year plants, but some second-year plants resprouted and produced viable seed. Cutting at the 2.5 or 10 cm height did not control first-year plants because of regrowth, and second-year plant density and seed production was reduced by cutting at 2.5 cm but not by cutting at 10 cm.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author's E-mail:


Hide All
Conn, J. S. and Farris, M. L. 1987. Seed viability and dormancy of 17 weed species after 21 months in Alaska. Weed Sci 35:524529.
Conn, J. S., Beattie, K. L., Shephard, M. A., Carlson, M. L., Lapina, I., Hebert, M., Gronquist, R., Densmore, R., and Rasy, M. 2008. Alaska Melilotus invasions: distribution, origin and susceptibility of plant communities. Arct. Alp. Res 40:298308.
Conn, J. S., Koskinen, W. C., Werdin, N. R., and Graham, J. S. 1996. Persistence of metribuzin and metabolites in two subarctic soils. J. Environ. Qual 25:10481053.
Diggle, A. D., Neve, P. B., and Smith, F. P. Herbicides used in combination can reduce the probability of herbicide resistance in finite weed populations. Weed Res 43:371382.
DiTomaso, J. M., Brooks, M. L., Allen, E. B., Minnich, R., Rice, P. M., and Kyser, G. B. 2006. Control of invasive weeds with prescribed burning. Weed Technol 20:535548.
Eckardt, N. 1987. The Nature Conservatory Element Stewardship for Melilotus alba, Melilotus officinalis. Arlington, VA Nature Conservancy. 10. Accessed: August 25, 2008.
Haas, H. and Streibig, J. C. 1982. Changing patterns of weed distribution as a result of herbicide use and other agronomic factors. Pages 5779. In LeBaron, H. M. and Gressel, J. Herbicide Resistance in Plants. New York J. Wiley.
Irwin, D. L. 1945. Forty seven years of experimental work with grasses and legumes in Alaska. College, Alaska University of Alaska Fairbanks Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 12. 47.
Klebesadel, L. J. 1992. Morphological, physiological, and winter hardiness comparisons among latitudinal ecotypes of biennial sweetclover (Melilotus species) in subarctic Alaska. Fairbanks, AK University of Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Bulletin 91. 23.
Klebesadel, L. J. 1994. Responses of biennial sweetclovers of diverse latitudinal adaption to various management procedures in Alaska. Fairbanks, AK University of Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Bulletin 98. 19.
Kline, V. M. 1984. Response of sweetclover (Melilotus alba Desr.) and associated prairie vegetation to seven experimental burning and mowing treatments. Pages 149152. in. Proceedings of the 9th North American Prairie Conference. Winona, MN Winona State University.
Macander, M., Hay, B., and Wurtz, T. L. 2007. Modeling the spread of Alaska's invasive plants one pixel at a time. In Proceedings of the 8th Annual Conference for Noxious and Invasive Plant Management. Fairbanks, Alaska: Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plant Management. Accessed: September 2, 2008.
Martin, J. N. 1934. The relative growth rates and interdependence of tops and roots of the biennial white sweet clover, Melilotus alba Desr. Am. J. Bot 21:140159.
Neve, P. and Powles, S. High survival frequencies at low herbicide use rates in populations of Lolium rigidum result in rapid evolution of herbicide resistance. Heredity 95:485492.
Pearce, C. M. and Smith, D. G. 2003. Salt cedar: distribution, abundance, dispersal mechanisms, northern Montana, USA. Wetlands 23:215228.
Polunin, N. 1959. Circumpolar arctic flora. London Oxford University Press. 514.
Prather, T. S., DiTomaso, J. M., and Holt, J. S. 2000. Herbicide resistance: definition and management strategies. Davis, CA University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication 8012. 14.
Rejmánek, M., Richardson, D. M., and Pyšek, P. 2005. Plant invasions and invisibility of plant communities. Pages 332355. In van der Maarel, E. Vegetation Ecology. Oxford, UK Blackwell Science.
Richardson, D. M., Pyšek, P., Rejmánek, M., Barbour, M. G., Panetta, F. D., and West, C. J. 2000. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: concepts and definitions. Divers. Distrib 6:93107.
Seefeldt, S. S., Conn, J. S., Jackson, B. E., and Sparrow, S. D. 2007. Response of seedling bird vetch (Vicia cracca) to six herbicides. Weed Technol 21:692694.
Spellman, B. T. 2008. The Impact of Invasive Sweetclover (Melilotus alba) in Early-Successional Floodplain Habitats of Alaska. M.S. thesis. Fairbanks, AK School of Natural Resource Management, University of Alaska. 86.
Stoa, T. E. 1933. Persistence of viability of sweet clover seed in a cultivated soil. J. Am. Soc. Agron 25:177181.
Turkington, R. A., Cavers, P. B., and Empel, E. 1978. The biology of Canadian weeds, 29: Melilotus alba Desr. and M. officinalis (L.) Lam. Can. J. Plant Sci 58:523537.
[USDA NRCS] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service 2008. Plants Profile Melilotus alba Medikus: White Sweetclover. Accessed: September 1, 2008.
Vitousek, P. M. and Walker, L. R. 1989. Biological invasion by Myrica faya in Hawaii: plant demography, nitrogen fixation, ecosystem effect. Ecol. Monogr 59:247265.
Wolf, J. J., Beatty, S. W., and Carey, G. 2003. Invasion by sweetclover in montane grasslands, Rocky Mountain National Park. Ann. Assoc. Am. Geogr 93:531543.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed