The wet weather in South Dakota has produced an interesting phenomenon out on the prairies to the west. Some pasturelands in the western counties seem to be covered with sweet clover this year, often as far as the eye can see.
The proliferation of sweet clover happens about once every six or seven years, depending on rainfall. It is good feed for livestock if it is grazed or cut early. But if it’s done late in the season, it can be toxic.
It is not a native species, although it doesn’t seem to be crowding out other prairie plants, mainly because it doesn’t show up every year. The seeds can lie dormant for years. When it does show up, it often improves the soil.
“Sweet clover fixes nitrogen. So, in that respect, it’s very beneficial. It also has a lot of benefits for wildlife from honey bees to forage for deer and other species,” BLM Rangeland Management’s, Mitch Iverson said.
People often notice that a patch of sweet clover smells like honey. Bees love the stuff, and often prefer clover to other blossoms.