Medicago polychroa Grossh. - Parti-colored alfalfa, patterned alfalfa.
Taxonomic position.Family Leguminosae Endl., genus Medicago L., subgenus Falcago (Reichb.) Grossh.
Biology and morphology.Perennial herb with well-branched root-system. Growth habit is prostrate to ascending. Stems are procumbent, ascending or erect, from 40-60 to 75-120 cm tall, thick. Leaflets are large, the lower sides of which are pubescent or glabrous. Racemes are large (1.4-2.9 cm long), diffuse, ovate or short-cylindrical, with 11-31 flowers. Flowers vary in color (violet, whitish, greenish, pink or yellow). Pods are of medium or large size, (3)4-5(6) mm in diameter with 2-4 coils, covered by glandular hair, rarely glabrous. It blossoms in June-July. Seeds ripen during August-September. Cross-pollinated. 2n=32.
Distribution.Occurs in the foothills of Georgia and Armenia (up to 600-1,300 m), the Stavropol region and Kabardino-Balkaria (up to 500-1,000 m).
Ecology.Occurs on grassy slopes, along the edges of woods and bushes, on riversides, on hillsides, in stony and drift soils, and in plowed fields as a weed.
Utilization and economic value.Of all wild alfalfa species, it is the best species for multiple hay-harvests. It is drought-resistant and tolerant to low soil fertility. It is promising in breeding programs as a component in crosses.
Reference citations:Goncharov P.L., Lubenetc P.A. 1985. Biological Aspects of Alfalfa Cultivating. Novosibirsk: Nauka, 253 pp. (In Russian)
Grossheim A.A. 1945. Medicago genus. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 11. Moscow: Leningrad, 129-176 p.
Grossheim A.A. 1952. Genus Medicago. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 5. Moscow-Leningrad: Academy of Science of the USSR, 177-192 p. (In Russian)
Ivanov A.I. 1980. Alfalfa. Moscow: Kolos, 349 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.
Vasil.chenko I.T. 1949. Alfalfa is the best fodder crop. Series 1. Leningrad: Academy of Science of the USSR. Issue 8, 248 pp. (In Russian)