Medicago caerulea Less. ex Ledeb. - Blue alfalfa

Taxonomic position.

Family Leguminosae Endl., genus Medicago L., subgenus Falcago (Reichb.) Grossh. Medicago coerulea Less. Ex. Ledeb. (Medicago sativa subsp. coerulea).

Biology and morphology.

2n=16. Perennial herb. Stems are ascending, rough but thin, almost glabrous. Leaflets small, elongated. Inflorescence is a raceme of cylindrical form. Flowers are very small, purple-violet. Cross-pollinated by insects. Blossoms in June-July. Pods ripen in July-September.

Origin and distribution.

This is the most ancient species with blue-colored flowers, the ancestor of Medicago sativa L. Distributed mainly in the Caspian Lowlands in the basins of the Amba, Ural, Volga, Kuma, Terek and Kura Rivers. Also occurs in the Balhash-Alakul Lowland.


Grows in sandy soils, in sands, in coarse gravelly soils, on dry riversides and on stony and clay low grounds and hillsides.

Utilization and economic value.

Not cultivated, but it has potential for cultivation. Tolerant to salinity, drought and heat. Not tolerant to flooding. Characterized by tolerance to trampling and grazing and a high resistance to diseases and insects. Doesn.t demand high soil fertility. May be utilized in truncated soils of low fertility and meadows and pastures in arid zones with extreme environmental conditions.


Ivanov A.I. 1980. Alfalfa. Moscow Kolos, p. 349.
Ivanov A.I., Soskov U.D., Bukhteeva A.V. 1986. Resources of perennial fodder crops in Kazakhstan. Alma-Ata Kainar, p. 219.
Khasanov O.H. 1972. Wild species of Alfalfa in Asia Minor. Tashkent, Fan, p. 170.
Lesins K.A., Lesins I. 1979. Genus Medicago (Leguminosae). A Taxogenetic study. p. 228.
Sinskaya E.N. 1950. Alfalfa. Cultural flora of USSR. Vol. 13, issue 1, p. 1-344.
Vasil.chenko I.T. 1949. Alfalfa is the best fodder crop. Leningrad, Academy of Science of the USSR. Ser. 1, Issue 8, p. 248.

© N.I. Dzyubenko

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