Dr Nidhi Gautam is teaching plant sciences, particularly reproductive biology, anatomy and Plant systematics at Daulat Ram College, Delhi University for the last 25 years. Her main area of Research is Reproductive Biology of legumes. She has attended many National and International Conferences. She was one of the invited speakers at Indian Science Congress 2017 held in January this year. Dr Gautam published several research papers and articles in various Journals of repute.
Melilotus indicus (L.) All., an annual, forage legume grows abundantly as winter weed during November- December months. The flowering is observed from February to March in Delhi. It is capable to grow well in all types of soils as pure patches. The plant attains a height of about 8-12 inches. It is characterized by trifoliate leaves and small, yellow flowers that are borne on axillary and terminal racemes, fruits are one seeded short pods. The seed coat is very hard that develops from outer integument in a gradual and sequential manner. The floral buds and young seeds were collected and processed for structural and histochemical studies. In the present work the salient features of reproductive biology of Melilotus indicus will be discussed. The embryogeny of M. indicus reveals many interesting features at light and electron microscopic levels. The main course of embryogenesis is comparable to other legumes though the presence of various uncommon and rare features makes it interesting. The ovary covers two campylotropous ovules borne on marginal placenta. One of the ovules aborts after fertilization. Leaves and seeds of this taxon find a mention in traditional medicines. It is a value added legume that can also be grown on salt rich soils. Such potential weed can play an important role for the restoration of waste lands and therefore, deserves more attention of environmentalists and plant biologists. This forage plant species can also be used for mixed cropping and crop rotation.
Key words: Melilotus indicus, weed, seed coat, traditional medicine.