Toxic properties and allelopathic activity of Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pall.


Melilotus officinalis
biological toxicity
repellent activity
biological agriculture

How to Cite

Mikhailova, S. I., Andreeva, V. Y., Zinner, N. S., Gulik, E. S., Suchkova, S. A., & Belousov, M. V. (2022). Toxic properties and allelopathic activity of Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pall. Acta Biologica Sibirica, 8, 89-99.


Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pall., known as yellow sweetclover (Fabaceae), is widely used in medicine and agriculture. At the same time, yellow sweetclover is a weed and invasive plant in Siberia. In Russia, M. officinalis is cultivated as a valuable medicinal, fodder and honey plant. Its widespread use is due to its high ecological plasticity. In recent years, an interest in cultivation of M. officinalis as a low maintenance multipurpose crop has increased in biological agriculture. The herb M. officinalis contains a rich complex of biologically active compounds. However, along with positive properties, this species, though with a rich chemical composition and high physiological activity, is toxic towards different groups of living organisms. The toxic effect of M. officinalis extracts is primarily due to the presence of coumarin. A high allelopathic activity of M. officinalis was revealed. The phytotoxic effect of herb extracts on germination of crop and weed seeds was studied in detail. Data on the fungicidal and insecticidal activity of M. officinalis were obtained. Laboratory and in situ studies showed that the aboveground part of M. officinalis is a potential source of biopesticides with a broad-spectrum effect (bioherbicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal).


Abraham K, Wöhrlin F, Lindtner O, Heinemeyer G, Lampen A (2010) Toxicology and risk assessment of coumarin: Focus on human data. Molecular Nutrition Food Research 54 (2): 228–239.

Abyshev AZ, Agaev EM, Abyshev RA (2014) Natural and synthetic coumarins and flavonoids (Current status and prospects for creation of new drugs based on coumarins and flavonoids). Edm and Takhsil Publishing House, Baku, 482 pр. [In Russian]

Al-Snafi AE (2020) Chemical constituents and pharmacological effects of Melilotus officinalis – a Review. IOSR Journal of Pharmacy (IOSRPHR) 10(1): 26–36.

Alstad AD, Casper HH, Johnson LJ (1985) Vitamin K treatment of sweetclover poisoning in calves. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 187: 729–731.

Anwer MS, Mohtasheem M, Azhar I, Ahmed SW, Bano H (2008) hemical constituents from Melilotus officinalis. Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences 4 (2): 89–94.

Baumann CA, Field JB, Overman RS, Link KP (1942) Studies on the hemorrhagic sweetclover disease. Journal of Biological Chemistry 146: 7–14.

Berny P, Alves L, Simon V, Rossi S (2005) Intoxication des ruminants par les raticides anticoagulants: quelle réalité? Revue de Médecine Vétérinaire 156 (8–9): 449–455.

Blackshaw RE, Moyer JR, Doram RC, Boswell AL (2001) Yellow sweetclover, green manure, and its residues effectively suppress weeds during fallow. Weed Science 49 (3): 406–413.[0406:YSGMAI]2.0.CO;2

Bubenchikova VN, Drozdova IL (2004) Study of the composition of phenolic compounds of sweetclover by HPLC. Chemical Pharmaceutical Journal 38 (4): 24–25. [In Russian]

Burkin AA, Kononenko GP, Gavrilova OP, Gagkaeva TYu (2017) Mycotoxins in leguminous grasses of natural fodder lands in European Russia. Agricultural biology 52 (2): 409–417. [In Russian]

Campbell HA, Link KP (1941) Studies on the hemorrhagic sweet clover disease. IV. The isolation and crystallization of the hemorrhagic agent. Journal of Biological Chemistry 138: 21–33.

Campbell HA, Roberts WL, Smith WK, Link KP (1940) Studies of the hemorrhagic sweet clover disease: I. The preparation of hemorrhagic concentrates. Journal of Biological Chemistry 136: 47–55.

Dubrovskikh T (2021) What is the use of Melilotus officinalis? [Electronic linck] URL: (Accessed: 07/02/2022).

Dzyubenko NI, Duk OV, Malyshev LL, Prosvirin YuA, Kosarev IA (2018) Screening of sweetclover (Melilotus Adans.) species diversity for resistance to chloride salinization. Sel’skokhozyaistvennaya biologiya [Agricultural Biology] 53 (6): 1294–1302. [In Russian]

Efremov АА, Zykova ID, Tselukovskaya MM (2012) Chemical composition of biological active sapsens Melilotus officinalis (L.). Chemistry of Plant Raw Material 3: 111–114. [In Russian]

Goplen BP (1980) Sweetclover Production and Agronomy. La revue veterinaire canadienne 21(5): 149–51.

Gulik ES, Mikhailova SI, Babenko AS, Qasim HA (2021) Repellent and insecticidal effect of the invasive plant Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pall. on Tenebrio molitor L. Problems of Industrial Botany of Industrially Developed Regions. BIO Web of Conferences 31, 00008.

Kaur A, Kaur P (2017) Green pesticides for clean environment. International Journal of Engineering Development and Research 5 (4): 1347–1349.

Khare C (2007) Melilotus officinalis Linn. In: Khare C. (Eds) Indian Medicinal Plants.Springer, New York, NY.

Khrustaleva IA (2016) Melilotus officinalis (L.) Pall. In: The Black Book of flora of Siberia. Vinogradova YuK and Kupriyanov AN (Eds) Geo, Novosibirsk, 250–254 pp. [In Russian]

Lake B (1999) Coumarin metabolism, toxicity and carcinogenicity: relevance for human risk assessement. Food and Chemical Toxicology 37: 423–452.

Lesiovskaya EE (2014) Evidence-based phytotherapy. Vol. 2. Moscow, 688 рр. [In Russian] Link KP (1959) Discovery of Dicumarol and Its Sequels. Circulation 19: 97–107.

Luo K, Jahufer MZZ, Wu F, Di H, Zhang D, Meng X, Zhang J, Wang Y (2016) Genotypic variation in a breeding population of yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis). Frontiers in Plant Science 7: 972.

Mardani H, Kazantseva E, Onipchenko V, Fujii Y (2016) Evaluation of allelopathic activity of 178 Caucasian plant species. International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences 5 (1): 75–81.

Mikhailova SI, Ebel TV, Ebel AL (2019) Distribution of alien plants by speirochory in agrocenosis of Tomsk oblast. Russian Journal of Biological Invasions 10 (4): 358–364.

Moyer JR, Blackshaw RE, Huang HC (2007) Effect of sweetclover cultivars and management practices on following weed infestations and wheat yield. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 87(4): 973–983.

Nikolaev NA, Livazan MA, Skirdenko YuP, Martynov AI (2019) Biologically active plants and fungi of Siberia in clinical medicine. Vol. 1. Publishing House of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Moscow, 382 рр. [In Russian]

Patent 2471495 RF, IPC A61K 36/48 (2006.01), A61P 7/00 (2006.01). Hemorheological herbal preparation / Andreeva VYu, Aliev OI, Plotnikov MB, Kalinkina GI; applicant and patent holder Research Institute of Pharmacology SB RAMS, GBOU VPO Siberian State Medical University of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russia. 10.01.13, Bull. No. 1, 7 p. [In Russian]

Pavela R, Chermenskaya T (2004) Potential insecticidal activity of extracts from 18 species of medicinal plants on larvae of Spodoptera littoralis. Plant Protection Science 40 (4): 145–150.

Podkolzin AA, Dontsov VI, Sychev IA, Kobeleva GYU, Kharchenko ON (1996) Immunomodulating, antianemic, and adaptogenic effects of polysaccharides from plaster clover (Melilotus officinalis). Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine 121: 597–599.

Puschner B, Galey FD, Holstege DM, Palazoglu M (1998) Sweetclover poisoning in dairy cattle in California.Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 212 (6): 857–859.

Radostits QM, Searcy GP, Mitchall KG (1980) Moldy sweet clover poisoning in cattle. Canadian Veterinary Journal 21(5): 155–158.

Sagalbekov UM, Sagalbekov E U, Syzdykov ET, Seytmaganbetova GT, Baydalin ME (2016) Innovational agricultural practices in melilot cultivation and harvesting in Nothern Kazakhstan. Fodder Production 6: 27–30. [In Russian]

Schofield FW (1923) Damaged sweetclover: The cause of a new disease in cattle simulating hemorrhagic septicemia and blackleg. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 64: 553–575.

Shikh EV, Bulayev VM, Demidova OA (2015) The safety assessment of medicinal plants. Safety and Risk of Pharmacotherapy 2: 23–29. [In Russian]

Shinwari MI, Shinwari MI, Fujii Y (2013) Allelopathic evaluation of shared invasive plants and weeds of Pakistan and Japan for environmental risk assessment. Pakistan Journal of Botechnology 45: 467–474.

Stahmann MA, Huebner CF, Link KP (1941) Studies on the hemorrhagic sweet clover disease. V. Identification and synthesis of the hemorrhagic agent. Journal of Biological Chemistry 138 (2): 513–527.

Steliga T, Kluk D (2021) Assessment of the suitability of Melilotus officinalis for phytoremediation of soil contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH and PAH), Zn, Pb and Cd Based on Toxicological Tests. Toxics 9: 148.

Toropova E, Posazhennikov S, Marmuleva E (2014) Systemic phytosanitary role of spring wheat predecessors in the southern forest steppe of Novosibirsk region. Siberian Bulletin of Agricultural Science 4: 5–11. [In Russian]

Toropova EY, Glinushkin AP, Insebaeva MK, Stetsov GY (2021) The conidia Bipolaris sorokiniana Sacc. Shoem. distribution in the soil of Altai and Kazakhstan arid regions. Journal of Physics: Conference Series 1942 (1): 012078.

Umer A, Yousaf Z, Khan F, Hussain U, Anjum A, Nayyab Q, Younas A (2010) Evaluation of allelopathic potential of some selected medicinal species. African Journal of Biotechnology 9 (37): 6194–6206.

Venugopala KN, Rashmi V, Odhav B (2013) Review on natural coumarin lead compounds for their pharmacological activity. BioMed Research International. Article ID: 963248.

VIDAL. Drug guide [Electronic version] URL: (Date of access: 18.08.2021).

Wang ZB, Qi CH (2014) Allelopathy effect of water extracts of Melilotus officinalis on three kinds of weeds. Seed 33 (12): 40–43.

Wu C, Guo X, Li Z, Shen Y (2010) Feasibility of using the Allelopathic potential of yellow sweetclover for weed control. Allelopathy Journal 25: 173‒183.

Wu CX, Liu SJ, Zhao GQ (2014) Isolation and identification of the potential allelochemicals in the aqueous extract of yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis). Acta Prataculturae Sinica 23: 184‒192. [In Chinese]

Wu CX, Liu SJ, Zhao GQ, Xu J (2015) The allelopathy of yellow sweetclover on weeds. Acta Agrestia Sinica 23: 137‒143. [In Chinese]

Wu CX, Zhao GQ, Liu DL., Liu SJ, Gun XX, Tang Q (2016) Discovery and weed inhibition effects of coumarin as the predominant allelochemical of yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis). International Journal of Agriculture and Biology 18: 168‒175.

Zhang J, Di H, Luo K, Jahufer Z, Wu F, Duan Z, Stewart A, Yan Z, Wang Y (2018) Coumarin content, morphological variation, and molecular phylogenetics of Melilotus. Molecules 23: 810.

Zobnin YuV, Kutateladze RG, Malykh AF, Pazyukov EA, Provado IP, Teterina IP (2013) Acute poisonings with anticoagulants according to the data of the Irkutsk toxicological center. Siberian Medical Journal 5: 131–134. [In Russian]

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...