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Medicago sativa
ALFALFA

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: LEGUME FAMILY
Habit: Annual to tree. Leaf: generally alternate, generally compound, generally stipuled, generally entire, pinnately veined Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, umbel or head; or flowers 1--few in axils. Flower: generally bisexual, generally bilateral; hypanthium 0 or flat to tubular; sepals generally 5, generally fused; petals generally 5, free, fused, or lower 2 +- united into keel (see 3, Key to Groups, for banner, wings); stamens 10 or many (or [1], 5, 6, 7, 9), free or fused or 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, including a stalk-like base (above receptacle) or not. Seed: 1--many, often +- reniform, generally hard, smooth.
Genera In Family: +- 730 genera, 19400 species: worldwide; with grasses, requisite in agriculture, most natural ecosystems. Many cultivated, most importantly Arachis, peanut; Glycine, soybean; Phaseolus, beans; Medicago, alfalfa; Trifolium, clovers; many orns. Note: Unless stated otherwise, fruit length including stalk-like base, number of 2° leaflets is per 1° leaflet. Upper suture of fruit adaxial, lower abaxial. Anthyllis vulneraria L. evidently a waif, a contaminant of legume seed from Europe. Laburnum anagyroides Medik., collected on Mount St. Helena in 1987, may be naturalized. Ceratonia siliqua L., carob tree (Group 2), differs from Gleditsia triacanthos L. in having evergreen (vs deciduous) leaves that are 1-pinnate (vs 1-pinnate on spurs on old stems, 2-pinnate on new stems) with 2--5(8) (vs 7--17) 1° leaflets, commonly cultivated, now naturalized in southern California. Aeschynomene rudis Benth. , Halimodendron halodendron (Pall.) Voss (possibly extirpated), Lens culinaris Medik. are agricultural weeds. Caragana arborescens Lam. only cult. Ononis alopecuroides L. , Sphaerophysa salsula (Pall.) DC. all evidently extirpated. Cercidium moved to Parkinsonia; Chamaecytisus to Cytisus; Psoralidium lanceolatum to Ladeania.
eFlora Treatment Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Martin F. Wojciechowski, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: MedicagoView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: ALFALFA, MEDICK
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, unarmed, generally hairy. Stem: prostrate to erect. Leaf: subpalmately compound or generally odd-1-pinnate; stipules +- fused to petiole, entire or deeply cut; leaflets 3, generally dentate near tip. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal, raceme, generally umbel- or +- head-like, 1--many-flowered. Flower: calyx lobes +- equal or not; corolla yellow or purple; 9 filaments fused, 1 free. Fruit: indehiscent, reniform or generally spirally coiled 1.5--8 turns (or sickle-shaped or straight), generally prickly. Seed: 1--several.
Species In Genus: 83 species: Mediterranean to western and central Asia; several cultivated, naturalized in warm temperate. Etymology: (Greek: Medice, now Media, Asia Minor, source of alfalfa) Note: Medicago muricata possibly naturalized in Carrizo Plain.
eFlora Treatment Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski & Duane Isely

Medicago sativa L.
NATURALIZED
Habit: Perennial herb, +- glabrous or puberulent. Stem: generally erect, 2--8 dm. Leaf: stipules lanceolate, entire to sharply toothed; leaflets 1--2.9 cm, narrowly lanceolate to obovate. Inflorescence: spike-like, 8--30-flowered, longer in fruit. Flower: calyx 4--4.5 mm; corolla 6--11 mm, violet or violet- to yellow-green (yellow). Fruit: generally coiled 2--3 turns (or straight or sickle-shaped); light to dark yellow-brown, leathery, prickles 0, hairs 0. Chromosomes: 2n=16,32.
Ecology: Disturbed, agricultural areas; Elevation: < 2450 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA-FP, GB, DMtns (Panamint Range); Distribution Outside California: United States except southeastern; native to Eurasia. Flowering Time: Apr--Oct Note: Cult; highly variable, polyploid complex in United States, including genetic components from several species; often divided into several species or subspecies, none tenable.
Synonyms: Medicago sativa subsp. falcata (L.) Arcang.; Medicago sativa subsp. sativa
eFlora Treatment Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski & Duane Isely
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Citation for this treatment: Martin F. Wojciechowski & Duane Isely 2016. Medicago sativa, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/get_IJM.pl?tid=32943, accessed on February 05, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/IJM.html, accessed on February 05, 2016.


Medicago sativa
click for enlargement
© 2003 Michael Charters
Medicago sativa
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© 2010 Barry Breckling
Medicago sativa
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© 2009 Neal Kramer
Medicago sativa
click for enlargement
© 2010 Barry Breckling
Medicago sativa
click for enlargement
© 2009 Neal Kramer
Medicago sativa
click for enlargement
© 2015 Barry Breckling

More photos of Medicago sativa in CalPhotos


Geographic subdivisions for Medicago sativa:
CA-FP, GB, DMtns (Panamint Range);
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.