Ornithopus sativus  Brot. - Pink serradella.

Taxonomic position.

Family Leguminosae Endl., genus Ornithopus L.


French serradella, Common serradella.

Biology and morphology.

Annual or biennial herb. Pubescentm multi-branched plant with stems up to 60 cm tall. Deeply rooted, though less so than yellow serradella (Ornithopus compressus L.). Erect growth habit initially, but stems become procumbent, thus forming a dense canopy. Leaves pinnate, finely serrated, with 6-10 pairs of greenish blue, lanceolate leaflets up to 1 cm long. Inflorescence is an umbel of 2-5 flowers, pink or white, with leafy bracts borne on a long, axillary stem jutting out from the leaves. Soft seeds develop in straight pods, up to 3.0 cm long, with 3-7 constricted segments, each containing a brown, reticulated seed. At maturity, the segments, light brownish red in color, break off from the pod as they fall to the ground. Blossoming begins in June and lasts until the fall frosts. Seeds ripen beginning in August and until the fall frosts. Cross-pollinated mainly by bees. 2n=14.


The Mediterranean is the center of species diversity. Grown throughout the European part of former USSR (especially in the Leningrad region and Ukraine); in the Caucasus, the species runs wild.


Prefers sandy soils with a high water table. Occurs along roads and bushes, sometimes as a ruderal plant. Typical habitats include fallow, meadow or pasture and seashore. Intolerant to frost. Moderately tolerant of drought. Tolerant of highly acid and infertile soils.

Utilization and economic value.

Can be cultivated for grazing, soil cover, hay and silage. Highly acceptable forage to livestock, whether grazed or fed as silage. Has high nutritive value. Rich in protein concentration and high digestibility. High degree of resistance to diseases and pests.

Literature cited:

Brezhnev D.D., Korovina O.N. 1980. Wild relatives of the cultivated plants of flora of the USSR. L.: Kolos, 376 pp. (in Russian).
Phyodorov A.A., ed. 1987. Flora of the European part of the USSR. Vol. 6. 254 pp. (in Russian).
Schischkin V.K., Bobrov E.G., eds. 1948. Flora of the USSR. Genus Ornithopus L. Vol. 13. M.-L.: USSR , p. 245-246. (in Russian).
Galushko A.I. 1980. Flora of the Northern Caucasus. A field guide. Vol. 2. Rostov-na-Donu, 350 pp. (in Russian).
Grossheim A.A. 1952. Genus Ornithopus L. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 5. M.-L.: Academy of Science of the USSR, p. 344-345. (in Russian).
Medvedev P.F., Smetannikova A.I. 1981. The forage crops of the European part of the USSR. L.: Kolos, 336 pp. (in Russian).

© N.I. Dzyubenko & E.A. Dzyubenko

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