Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

 
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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

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  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.

FABACEAE

LEGUME FAMILY

Annual to tree
Leaves generally compound, alternate, stipuled; leaflets generally entire
Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, umbel or head; flowers sometime 1–2 in axils
Flowers generally bisexual, generally bilateral; hypanthium generally flat or cup-like; sepals generally 5, fused; petals generally 5, free, or the 2 lower ± fused; stamens 1–many, often 10 with 9 filaments at least partly fused, 1 (uppermost) free; pistil 1, ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, ovules 1–many, style, stigma 1
Fruit: legume, sometimes including a stalk-like base above receptacle, dehiscent, or indehiscent and breaking into 1-seeded segments, or indehiscent, 1-seeded, and achene-like
Seeds 1–several, often ± reniform, generally hard, smooth
Genera in family: ± 650 genera, 18,000 species: worldwide; with grasses, requisite in agriculture and most natural ecosystems. Many cultivated, most importantly Arachis , peanut; Glycine , soybean; Phaseolus , beans; Medicago ; Trifolium ; and many orns
Reference: [Polhill & Raven (eds) 1981 Advances in legume systematics; Allen & Allen 1981 Leguminosae]
Family description and key to genera by Duane Isely.

MEDICAGO

Duane Isely

Annual or perennial herb, unarmed
Stem prostrate to erect
Leaves generally odd-1-pinnate, sometimes subpalmately compound; stipules somewhat fused with petiole, entire or deeply cut; leaflets 3, generally toothed near tip
Inflorescence: raceme, axillary or terminal, few–many-flowered
Flower: calyx lobes ± equal or not; corolla yellow or purple; 9 filaments fused, 1 free
Fruit indehiscent, generally coiled 1.5–5 turns, generally prickly
Seeds 1–several
Species in genus: ± 55 species: Eurasia (especially Medit); several cultivated and naturalized worldwide
Etymology: (Medea, source of alfalfa, which then bore Greek name Medice)
Reference: [Small & Jomphe 1989 Can J Bot 67:3260–3294]

Introduced

M. sativa L.

ALFALFA, LUCERNE

Perennial, ± glabrous or puberulent
Stem decumbent to generally erect, 2–8 dm
Leaf: stipules entire to sharply toothed; leaflets 1–1.5 cm, narrowly lanceolate to obovate
Inflorescence spike-like, 8–25-flowered, longer in fruit
Flower: calyx 4–4.5 mm; corolla 8–10 mm, purple or multicolored (i.e., violet, violet-green, greenish yellow, rarely yellow)
Fruit generally coiled 2–3 turns (rarely only sickle-shaped), leathery; prickles 0
Chromosomes: 2n=16,32
Ecology: Disturbed and agricultural areas
Elevation: < 1500 m.
Bioregional distribution: California Floristic Province, Great Basin Floristic Province
Distribution outside California: most of US except se; native to Eurasia
Flowering time: Apr–Oct
Reference: [Isely 1983 Iowa State J Res 57:207–220]
Cult; variable polyploid complex in US, including genetic components from several species; often divided into several species or subspp.

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bioregional map for MEDICAGO%20sativa being generated
 
N.B. The distribution depicted here differs from that given in The Jepson Manual (1993)

Retrieve Jepson Interchange Index to Plant Names entry for Medicago sativa
Retrieve dichotomous key for Medicago
Overlay Consortium of California Herbaria specimen data by county on this map
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