Medicago orbicularis (L.) Bart. - Round-pod alfalfa, button-clover, large-disc medicago

Taxonomic position.

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


Medicago marginata Willd., Medicago cuneata Woodson, Medicago applanata Willd.

Biology and morphology.

Annual of spring or rare autumn development type. Plants are 10-40(60) cm tall. Branches ascending or upright, numerous; many branches start from the main stem at ground level, forming secondary branches throughout their length. Leaflets are 10-15 mm x 8-12 mm, obovate, cuneate to obcordate. Peduncle 1-5-flowered, shorter than the corresponding petiole. Flowers are orange-yellow, 4-5 mm long. Pods 12-14 (up to 20) mm long, spineless discoid, coils 3-7, usually not appressed. Self-pollinated. 2n=16.


Occurs throughout Southern Europe, Asia Minor, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, northern Africa, the south of the European part of Russia, the Crimea, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Kazakhstan.


Grows mainly in heavy soils that do not dry out easily. Found along riversides in sandy or stony soils and on hillsides up to 1,000 m above sea level.

Utilization and economic value.

Potential forage plant for pasture establishment in southern areas as long as there is sufficient humidity.

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)
Galushko A.I. 1980. Flora of the Northern Caucasus: A field guide. Vol. 2. Rostov-na-Donu, 350 pp. (In Russian)
Goncharov P.L., Lubenetc P.A. 1985. Biological Aspects of Alfalfa Cultivating. Novosibirsk: Nauka. 253 pp. (In Russian)
Grossheim A.A. 1945. Genus Medicago. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 11. Moscow-Leningrad: USSR, 129-176 p. (In Russian)
Khasanov O.H. 1972. Wild species of Alfalfa in Asia Minor. Tashkent: Fan, 170 pp. (In Russian)
Kolakovskiy A.L. 1958. Flora of Abhasiya. Vol. 3. Tbilisi, 292 pp. (In Russian)
Lesins K.A., Lesins I. 1979. Genus Medicago (Leguminosae). A Taxogenetic study. The Hague (The Netherlands). Dr. W. Junk bv Publisher. 228 pp.
Mosel H. 1965. Comparative Chorology of the Flora of Central Europe. Jena. 583 p.
Nikitin V.V., Geldikhanov A.M. 1988. Plants of Turkmenistan: A field guide. Leningrad: Nauka. 680 pp. (In Russian)
Ovchinnikov P.N., ed. 1978. Flora of Tajikistan. Vol. 5. Leningrad: Nauka. 678 pp. (In Russian)
Pavlov N.B., ed. 1961. Flora of Kazakhstan. Vol. 5. Alma Ata: AN KazSSR. 515 pp. (In Russian)
Phyodorov A.A., ed. 1987. Flora of the European part of the USSR. Vol. 6. 254 pp. (In Russian)
Shishkin V.K., Bobrov E.G., eds. 1945. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 11. Moscow-Leningrad: USSR Academy of Science. 129-176 p. (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)
Vvedenskiy A.I., ed. 1981. Plants of Asia Minor: A field guide. Vol. 6. Tashkent: Fan. 394 p. (In Russian)

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