Medicago cancellata M.B. - Medicago cancellata.

Taxonomic position.

Family Leguminosae Endl., genus Medicago L., subgenus Medicago L.

Biology and morphology.

Perennial herb. The plants are 15-40 cm tall; stems ascending to erect, arising from the crown, covered with simple, appressed hairs. Stipules are awl- to lanceolate-shaped, entire to minutely dentate. Leaflets small, thick, glabrous on their upper sides, 5-12 mm x 2-6 mm, obovate, obcordate to narrowly wedge-shaped; margin in its apical third slightly serrated with a terminal tooth lying between two prominent lateral teeth. Peduncle 5-12-flowered, much longer than the corresponding petiole, with a distinct terminal cusp. Florets are about 5-7 mm long. Pedicel is distinctly longer than the calyx tube, bent downward at pod maturity; bract much shorter than the pedicel. Calyx is 4 mm long; teeth slightly longer than the tube. Corolla is bright yellow, of standard width, obovate; wings longer than the keel. Young pod emerges straight from the calyx and then protrudes sideways. Mature pod light to dark brown, lens-shaped, spineless, with 1.5-3 coils. Coils not tightly appressed, the middle one 4-6 mm in diameter, turning clockwise; on the face of coil, 9-10 veins run radially from the ventral suture, becoming thicker, forming a net of elevated veins, then entering into a thick dorsal suture. Seeds light brownish yellow, kidney-shaped, 3mm x 1.25 mm, 1-2 in a coil, not separated. Blossoms in June; seeds ripen in July-September. Cross-pollinated. 2n = 48.


Occurs throughout southeastern European Russia, the district of Stavropol, and north of the Caucasus.


Species grows in poor soils composed of sandstone and its erosion products.
It also occurs in steppe-meadows.

Utilization and economic value.

Characterized by winter hardiness and high drought resistance, but forage yields are rather low. Hybridization of M. cancellata, thriving in poor, dry soils, with M. sativa would, perhaps, increase the latter's adaptability to poorer soils. It may be a source of resistance to Stemphylium leaf spot.

Reference citations:

Brezhnev D.D., Korovina O.N. 1980. Wild relatives of the cultivated plants of flora of the USSR. Leningrad: Kolos. 376 pp. (In Russian)
Goncharov P.L., Lubenetc P.A. 1985. Biological Aspects of Alfalfa Cultivating. Novosibirsk: Nauka. 253 pp. (In Russian)
Grossheim A.A. 1952. Genus Medicago. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 5. Moscow-Leningrad: Academy of Science of the USSR. 177-192 pp. (In Russian)
Grossheim A.A. 1945. Genus Medicago. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 11. Moscow-Leningrad: AN USSR. 129-176 p. (In Russian)
Lesins K.A., Lesins I. 1979. Genus Medicago (Leguminosae). A Taxogenetic study. The Hague (The Netherlands). Dr. W. Junk bv Publisher. 228 p.
Phyodorov, A.A., ed. 1987. Flora of the European part of the USSR. Vol. 6. 254 pp. (In Russian)
Sinskaya, E.N. 1950. Alfalfa. Flora of cultivated plants of the USSR. Vol. 13. Moscow-Leningrad. Issue 1. 1-344 p. (In Russian)
Vasil.chenko I.T. 1949. Alfalfa as the best fodder crop. Leningrad: Academy of Science of the USSR. Series 1. Issue 8. 248 pp.

© N.I. Dzyubenko, E.A. Dzyubenko


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