White or Yellow Sweet Clover (Melitotus alba / M. officinalis)
Plants that will be useful in the future are generally plants that have a knack to spread and survive. We often classify many of these types of aggressive, sturdy plants as weeds. (Perhaps after the apocalypse, we will call them valuable resources or gems).
White and Yellow Sweet Clover are examples of plants classified as “noxious weeds” by the MN DNR but which are actually both edible and medicinally useful. The seed pods can be cooked in a stew (as if they were beans), and are high in protein. The leaves are edible, and the flowers taste something like vanilla. Many parts of the plant are used as flavoring or seasoning in various recipes.
Like many edible plants, the survivor will want to harvest them fresh and young. Sweet clover contains coumarin (along with other plants like mullein), which adds effects to leaves when they are dried. Coumarin has an anti-clotting effect on one’s blood, but it can also be toxic. Consume carefully and in much moderation.
While flowering, the plant can be used to soothe and soften skin conditions and external ulcers, so the survivor should add it to his or her list of wound-alleviating ointments like plantain.
Where to Find and How to Identify
Sweet clover is valuable to the survivor in part because it is so common. It grows in disturbed areas and along edges, often lining roadways, ditches and abandoned fields. Which is essentially the landscape of the post-apocalyptic future.
Sweet clover is a biennial plant, flowering in the second year. When flowering, they grow erect, 3-5 feet tall. Leaves are small, split into three leaflets with sharp teeth, and the flowers line the top of the stem. The flowers have a strong aroma.