Medicago falcata L. - Yellow flower alfalfa, sickle-shaped alfalfa

Taxonomic position.

Family Leguminosae Endl., genus Medicago L., subgenus Falcago (Reichb.) Grossh.

Biology and morphology.

2n=16, 32. Perennial herb. Root system is well-developed and depends upon environmental conditions (tap-rooted, rhizomatous and creeping-root forms of the plant exist). Stems are numerous, ascending, erect or procumbent, 20-150 cm tall (mainly 40-80 cm), glabrous or covered with sparse pubescence. Leaflets vary in shape and size (obovate, oblong, oval or broadly ovate), are 2-30 mm in length (usually 5-22 mm) and 1-10 mm in width (usually 2-6 mm). Racemes are oval, dense on short peduncles. Flowers are yellow. Pods comparatively small, sickle-shaped or straight with sparse pubescence, 6-15 m in length (usually 8-12) and 2-3.5 mm in width. Blossoms in July-August. Seeds ripen in September-October. Cross-pollinated.


Occurs throughout Central and Southern Europe and Asia (CIS, Mongolia, China, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Western India, Algiers, etc.).


Prefers humid and dry meadows, edges of forests and bushes, riversides and roadsides on drift soils, hillsides and mountainsides (grows as high as 3,200 meters above sea level). Habitats are similar to those of Medicago varia Mart., but less humid.

Utilization and economic value.

Has potential for sprigging of meadows and slopes with truncated soils. Characterized by high frost- and drought-resistance, tolerant to main diseases and pests. Used in breeding programs as a component in crosses with cultivated species, such as Medicago sativa L. and Medicago varia Mart.


Grossheim A.A. 1945. Medicago genus. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 11, pp. 129-176.
Khasanov O.H. 1972. Wild species of Alfalfa in Asia Minor. Tashkent, Fan, p. 170.
Sinskaya E.N. 1950. Alfalfa. Cultural flora of the USSR. Vol. 13, issue 1, pp. 1-344.

© N.I. Dzyubenko


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