Medicago Sp. - Alfalfa

Family: Pea - Fabaceae [E-flora]

"Annual, perennial herb, unarmed, generally hairy. Stem: prostrate to erect. Leaf: subpalmately compound or generally odd-1-pinnate; stipules ± fused to petiole, entire or deeply cut; leaflets 3, generally dentate near tip. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal, raceme, generally umbel- or ± head-like, 1–many-flowered. Flower: calyx lobes ± equal or not; corolla yellow or purple; 9 filaments fused, 1 free. Fruit: indehiscent, reniform or generally spirally coiled 1.5–8 turns (or sickle-shaped or straight), generally prickly. Seed: 1–several.
83 species: Mediterranean to western and central Asia; several cultivated, naturalized in warm temperate. (Greek: Medice, now Media, Asia Minor, source of alfalfa) Medicago muricata possibly naturalized in Carrizo Plain." [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Medicago arabica - spotted medic [E-flora]
  2. Medicago lupulina - black medic [E-flora]
  3. Medicago polymorpha - bur-clover [E-flora]
  4. Medicago sativa - alfalfa [E-flora]

Uses of Other Medicago Sp.

Medicago arborea
Tumor (Hartwell) [DukePhyt]
Medicago lupulina
Bactericide (Woi.Syria); Lenitive (Woi.Syria) [DukePhyt]
Medicago sp
Cancer (Hartwell) [DukePhyt]

Medicago polymorpha L., Bur Clover
  • Food--Cahuilla Porridge Parched, ground seeds used to make mush. (as M. hispida 15:88) Mendocino Indian Forage Seeds and leaves used as a forage plant. Dried seedpods eaten by sheep in summer. (as M. denticulata 41:358) [NAEth Moerman]

Medicago sativa L., Alfalfa . Drug--{:,ostanoan Ear Medicine Poultice of heated leaves applied to the ear for earaches. (21:19)

  • Food-Navajo, Ramah Fodder Plant cultivated, harvested, dried, stacked, or stored in hogans, and fed to livestock in winter. (191:32) Okanagan-Colville Spice Plants placed above and below black tree lichen and camas in cooking pits for the sweet flavor. (188:105) Shuswap Fodder Used for horse feed. (123:64)
  • Other-Keres, Western Unspecified Plant known and named but no use was specified. (171:53) [NAEth Moerman]


Medicago arabica - spotted medic

"General: Annual herb; stems prostrate or decumbent, 30-80 cm tall, nearly glabrous or with long soft hairs." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Mesic to dry fields and waste places; rare, known only from the Victoria area; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]



  1., Accessed March 1, 2015

Medicago lupulina - black medic

"Medicago lupulina is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

Origin Status:Exotic [E-flora]

"General: Annual or sometimes short-lived perennial herb; stems prostrate to erect, 10-50 cm long, branched from the base, downy." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range

"Mesic to dry fields, roadsides and waste places; common in BC S of 56degreeN, rare on the Queen Charlotte Islands, absent on N Vancouver Island; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora] "Grassy places and roadsides[17], often occurring as a garden weed on acid and calcareous soils[1]. Europe, including Britain, south and east to N. Africa, the Atlantic Islands and W. Asia." [PFAF]

This clover is widely distributed as a weed over most of the United States. [EWP]

Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Aqueous extracts of the plant have antibacterial properties against micro-organisms[218, 240]. The plant is lenitive[218, 240]." [PFAF]


Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food. Leaves (Dry weight)

"Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ[200]. The seed can also be sown in situ in autumn. Green manure crops can be sown in situ from early spring until early autumn[87]. (the later sowings are for an over-wintering crop)" [PFAF]

"A good green manure plant, it is fairly deep rooted, has good resistance to 'Clover rot' but it is not very fast growing[87]. It can be undersown with cereals, succeeding even in a wet season[87]." [PFAF]

"Dislikes acid soils[87]. (This conflicts with the notes on its habitat above.) Dislikes shade. A good food plant for many caterpillars[30]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]." [PFAF]



  1. [E-flora], Accessed March 2, 2015
  2. [PFAF] Accessed Dec 13, 2014
  3. [UMD-Eth]

Medicago polymorpha - bur-clover

Origin Status: Exotic[E-flora]

"General: Annual herb; stems prostrate to erect, 10-50 cm long/tall, glabrous or sparsely short-hairy." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range: "Mesic to dry fields and waste places, often with sandy or gravelly soil; rare in SW BC; introduced from Eurasia."[IFBC-E-flora]


  1., Accessed March 2, 2015

Medicago sativa - alfalfa

"Medicago sativa is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile. It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought." [PFAF]


"now cultivated extensively throughout the world. The species has several distinct variants including M. sativa (sensu stricto) and subsp. falcata (L.) Arcangeli (syn. M. falcata L.). The former is a purple-flowered form with strongly coiled legumes, originating from an arid continental climate in alkaline soils, principally from Turkey. Wild and cultivated M. sativa subsp. sativa and their progeny are relatively low in hemolytic saponins. M. sativa subsp. falcata has yellow flowers and uncoiled fruits, originating from cool, upland, humid climates in acidic soils and is comparatively higher in hemolytic saponins. Both taxa are involved in the parentage of numerous commercial alfalfa cultivars.[1] Modern western European and North American cultivars have intermediate levels of hemolytic alfalfa saponins due to hybridization and introgressions involving M. sativa subsp. falcata.[2]" [Leung ENCI]


"General: Perennial herb from a long taproot; stems erect to decumbent, 30-100 cm tall/long, slender, finely stiff-hairy to glabrous. [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range: "Mesic to dry cultivated fields, roadsides and ditches (ssp. sativa), and roadsides and dry slopes (ssp. falcata) in the steppe zone; ssp. sativa - common agricultural escape in S BC west of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, infrequent in SW BC, ssp. falcata - rare, known from scattered locations in S BC; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Waste ground, avoiding acid soils[17].Europe - Mediterranean. More or less naturalized in Britain[17]." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]


"The chemistry of alfalfa is well documented and it does appear to be a good source of vitamins and minerals, thereby supporting the herbal uses. However, normal human dietary intake of alfalfa is low and excessive ingestion should be avoided in view of the many pharmacologically active constituents (e.g. canavanine, isoflavones and saponins), which may give rise to unwanted effects if taken to excess."[HerbalMed3]

"Alfalfa should not be recommended for the treatment of arthritis. Coumarin compounds detected so far in alfalfa do not possess the minimum structural requirements for anticoagulant activity."[HerbalMed3]

"In view of the documented pharmacological actions of alfalfa the potential for preparations of alfalfa to interfere with those of other medicines administered concurrently, particularly those with similar or opposing effects, such as medicines with hormonal activity, should be considered."[HerbalMed3]

"Alfalfa seeds are reputed to affect the menstrual cycle and to be lactogenic. Although the safety of alfalfa herb has not been established, it is probably acceptable for use during pregnancy and lactation provided that doses do not exceed the amounts normally ingested as a food. Alfalfa seeds should not be ingested during pregnancy or lactation."[HerbalMed3]

"Canavanine is known to be toxic to all animal species because it is a structural analogue of arginine and may interfere with the binding of this amino acid to enzymes and its incorporation into proteins. Alfalfa seeds are reported to contain substantial quantities of canavanine (8.33–13.6 mg/kg), whereas the herb contains considerably less."[HerbalMed3]

"Pancytopenia [a medical condition in which there is a reduction in the number of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets] has been associated with human ingestion of ground alfalfa seeds (80–160 g/day), which were taken to lower plasma cholesterol concentrations."[HerbalMed3]

"The plant contains saponin-like substances[222]. Eating large quantities of the leaves may cause the breakdown of red blood cells[222]. However, although they are potentially harmful, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will normally remove most of them from the food. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K]. Alfalfa sprouts (and especially the seeds) contain canavanine. Recent reports suggest that ingestion of this substance can cause the recurrence of systemic lupus erythematosus (an ulcerous disease of the skin) in patients where the disease had become dormant[222]. The FDA advises that children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating alfalfa sprouts due to bacterial contamination. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid for people with hormone sensitive cancer. Avoid for people with gout (due to purines). Possible antagonize the anticoagulant effect of warfarin (due to vit K) and interfere with the immunosuppressant effect of corticosteroids [301]." [PFAF]

"Some caution is advised in the use of this plant, however. It should not be prescribed to people with auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis[238]." [PFAF]

"Stachydrine and l-homostachydrine, in the seeds, may be emmenagogue and lactogenic. One patient died from listerosis after ingesting contaminated alfalfa tablets (LRNP, March 1991). Seeds and/or sprouts may contain 13,000 ppm canavanine, which may be implicated in hypocomplementenemia, lupus, and pancytopenia. Canavanine, a toxic amino acid, may cause systemic lupus erythematosus syndrome (CAN). Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-like manifestations, skin reactions, gastrointestinal disturbances, raised serum urate levels are symptoms that have been associated with alfalfa use in humans. Seeds should not be ingested during pregnancy or lactation (CAN). May cause stomach upset and diarrhea. Believed by some herbalists to be helpful in delaying absorption of cholesterol and dissolving plaque deposits on arterial walls (TMA). Consumption of alfalfa tablets contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes was linked to a fatal case of listerosis. One case of allergic reaction (from contamination with grass pollen) in alfalfa tablets has been reported (SF2). Flatulence, abdominal discomfort, loose stools, diarrhea, and loss of appetite may result from ingesting large amounts of alfalfa seeds (120 g/day)." [HMH Duke]

Contraindications Interactions

"Although it has been suggested that alfalfa may interact with antidiabetic medicines and anticoagulants, evidence for this is largely lacking. Alfalfa may interact with immunosuppressants, and has apparently caused transplant rejection in one patient. Potential interactions of specific isoflavone constituents of alfalfa are covered under isoflavones" [HMI Stockey]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

"Alfalfa meal is used extensively as a poultry and cattle feed and as a source of raw material for the manufacture of leaf protein intended for human consumption. Alfalfa is also a source of chlorophyll manufacture." [Leung ECNI]

Medicinal Uses

Dosages: Herb [HerbalMed3]

Further Medicinal Use

"The present review emphasizes the phytochemical, traditional, pharmacological, clinical and toxicological reports on M. sativa. Saponins, flvonoids, phytoestrogens, coumarins, alkaloids, amino acids, phytosterols, vitamins, digestive enzymes and terpenes constitute major classes of phytoconstituents of the plant. M. sativa has been used since centuries as homoeopathic and Ayurvedic medicine for a variety of ailments. Th plant is widely used in foods and is listed by the Council of Europe as a source of natural food flvor (category N2 and N3). Thse categories indicate that M. sativa can be added to foodstuff in small quantities with a limitation on the concentrations of an active ingredient in the fial product. In the USA, M. sativa is listed as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Recent research carried out indicates its uses such as neuroprotective, hypocholesterolemic, antioxidant, antiulcer, antimicrobial, hypolipidemic, immunopotentiating, estrogenic, digestive, nutritive for human body, and in the treatment of atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and neurovegetative menopausal symptoms in women." [MedicagoSativa]

Medicago sativa L. [CRNAH]
Source Major Constituents Therapeutic Values
China Lucernol, sativol, coumesterol, formonetin, daidzein, tricin, citrulline, canaline, dicoumarol, methylenebishydroxy-coumarin, medicagemic acid, ononitol, petunidin, myrcene, malvidin, delphinidin, linalool, limonene.48 Depurative, deobstruent, diuretic, stomachic, treat intestinal and kidney disorders, kidney stone, poor night vision.
North America Isoflavones, coumarins, alkaloids, vitamins, porphyrins, stachydrine, l-homostarchydrine.100,102 For menstruation and menopause.

Arabs discovered the herb and named it al-facl-facah, or “father of all foods,” which the Spanish changed to “alfalfa.” It is rich in nutrients and minerals, including calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. A source of eight essential amino acids, alfalfa is used in China to treat fever, in India to treat ulcers, in Iraq and Turkey to treat arthritis, and in the U.S. in some natural therapies for cancer. It has also been employed for urinary infections, menopause, fatigue, and as an antibiotic and an antiasthmatic.[PDBHM]

"M. sativa has a long tradition of use as Ayurvedic and homoeopathic medicine in central nervous and digestive system disorders, and for the treatment of various other ailments." [MedicagoSativa]

"Traditionally, M. sativa is used to improve the memory, to cure kidney pain, cough, sore muscles, as a rejuvenator, antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflmmatory, antifungal, anti-asthmatic, antimicrobial, diuretic, galactagogue and in central nervous system (CNS) disorders (Finkler, 1985; BHMA, 1996; Inamul, 2004; DerMarderosian et al., 2005). M. sativa has a long tradition of use as Ayurvedic and homoeopathic medicine in CNS disorders (Inamul, 2004). M. sativa has been used by the Chinese since the sixth century to treat kidney stones, fever, gravel, dysuria and to relieve fluid retention and swelling. Ancient Indian Ayurvedic physicians used M. sativa to treat ulcers, arthritis pain and fluid retention. In Mexico M. sativa is believed to improve the memory, to cure sore muscles and inflammation. Early Americans used M. sativa to treat arthritis, boils, cancer, scurvy, and urinary and bowel problems. In Iraq M. sativa is used in arthritis. In Turkey it is used as cardiotonic and to treat scurvy and arthritis (Michael et al., 2007; Finkler, 1985; Inamul, 2004; DerMarderosian et al., 2005).
Moreover, it is considered beneficial in bladder disorders, blood clotting disorders, boils, cough, diuresis, gastrointestinal tract disorders, breast cancer, cervical cancer, kidney disorders, prostate disorders, appetite stimulation, inflmmation, increasing breast milk, asthma, indigestion, insect bites, jaundice, menopausal symptoms, allergies, increasing excretion of neutral steroids and bile acids in fecal matter, nutritional support, stomach ulcers, skin damage from radiation, galactagogue, increasing peristaltic action of the stomach and bowels, thrombocytopenic purpura, uterine stimulant, rheumatoid arthritis, scurvy, vitamin supplementation (vitamins A, C, E, K) and wound healing (Gray & Flatt, 1997a, 1997b; BHMA, 1996; DerMarderosian et al., 2005; Swanston et al., 1990)." [MedicagoSativa]



Prolonged ingestion of alfalfa seeds or alfalfa tablets has been associated with the induction or exacerbation of a lupus-like syndrome in humans, perhaps because of the canavanine alfalfa contains (56,57).
Infection risk
Alfalfa seeds are readily infected and there have been numerous reports of infections arising from the consumption of alfalfa sprouts grown from contaminated seeds. The most common infections are with Salmonella species, including Salmonella enterica (58), Salmonella havana (59), Salmonella kottbus (60,61), Salmonella mbandaka (62), Salmonella muenchen (63), Salmonella paratyphi (64), Salmonella stanley (65), and other serotypes (66,67). Occasionally, other organisms occur, such as Listeria (68) and Escherichia coli (69,70).[SEHM]


Folk Names: Buffalo Herb, Lucerne, Purple Medic, Jat, Qadb
Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Earth
Powers: Prosperity, Anti-Hunger, Money
Magical Uses: Keep in the home to protect from poverty and hunger. It is best placed in a small jar in the cupboard or pantry. Also, burn alfalfa and scatter the ashes around the property for this purpose. Alfalfa is also used in money spells.[EMH Cunningham]


"The manganese content of alfalfa (45.5 mg/kg) is reported to be the active principle responsible for a hypoglycaemic effect documented for the herb."[HerbalMed3]

"Claims have been made for it in the treatment of arthritis, high cholesterol, diabetes and peptic ulcers. Reputedly, the herb has bactericidal, cardiotonic, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue and oestrogenic properties. Commercial preparations including teas, tablets and capsules are available. Alfalfa is stated to be a source of vitamins A, C, E and K, and of the minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iron. It has been used for avitaminosis[vitamin deficiency] A, C, E or K, hypoprothrombinaemic purpura [impaired blood clotting], and debility of convalescence."[HerbalMed3]

"A major focus of biosynthetic studies of Leguminosae isoflavonoids has been to determine the pathways to phytoalexins such as the pterocarpan, (–)-medicarpin, and the isofl avan, (–)-vestitol. These are antifungal compounds synthesized de novo by the plant in response to fungal attack. Two species have been of particular importance in this work, the forage legume, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and Lotus japonicus, respectively (Dixon, 1999; Dixon & Steele, 1999; Akashi et al., 2006a)." [Buelga RAPR]

"Phytoestrogens are found primarily in soy (Glycine max) as well as in forage legumes such as subterranean clover, red clover, and lucerne (alfalfa, Medicago sativa) that are cultivated widely around the world. These forage plants are the main sources of phytoestrogens in ruminant nutrition. Clovers and soy generally contain isofl avones, whereas lucerne contains coumestans."[Buelga RAPR]

Nutritional Information

"Alfalfa is stated to be a source of vitamins A, C, E and K, and of the minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iron. It has been used for avitaminosis A, C, E or K, hypoprothrombinaemic purpura, and debility of convalescence.(G7, G64)" [HerbalMed3]


The coumarin and indanedione oral anticoagulants are vitamin K antagonists, which inhibit the enzyme vitamin K epoxide reductase so reducing the synthesis of vitamin K-dependent blood clotting factors by the liver. If the intake of dietary vitamin K1 increases, the synthesis of the blood clotting factors begins to return to normal. As a result the prothrombin time also begins to fall to its normal value. Naturally occurring vitamin K1 (phytomenadione) is found only in plants. The natural coumarins present in alfalfa are not considered to be anticoagulants, because they do not have the structural requirements for this activity.[HMI Stockey]

Activities (Alfalfa)
"Abortifacient (f; MAD); Alterative (f; PED); Antiatherosclerotic (1; APA); Antibacterial (1; CRC; WOI); Antiinflammatory (f; APA); Antipyretic (f; PED); Antiscorbutic (1; CRC); Antispasmodic (f; PED); Antithrombic (f; PED); Aperitif (f; CRC; SKY); Bitter (f; PED); Cardiotonic (f; CRC); Choleretic (1; PNC); Cyanogenic (f; CRC); Deobstruent (f; CRC); Depurative (f; CRC; PED); Digestive (1; PED); Diuretic (1; CRC; PED; PH2); Ecbolic (f; CRC); Emetic (f; CRC); Emmenagogue (1; CRC; FNF; UPW); Estrogenic (1; CRC; FAD; SKY); Fungicide (1; FAD); Hemolytic (f; APA); Hemostat (f; FAD); Hypocholesterolemic (f; CAN; PED); Hypoglycemic (f; PED); Lactagogue (1; CRC; FNF; UPW); Stimulant (f; CRC); Stomachic (f; CRC; PED); Tonic (f; CRC; PED)." [HMH Duke]
Select Indications (Alfalfa)
Anorexia (f; CRC; FAD; SKY); Arthrosis (f; APA; CRC; FAD; MAD); Atherosclerosis (1; APA); Bacteria (1; CRC; FNF; WOI); Bleeding (f; FAD); Blood Clot (f; APA; PED); Cancer (f; FAD; JLH); Diabetes (1; APA; CAN; FAD; MAD; PH2); Dyspepsia (f; APA); Dysuria (f; CRC; PED); Enterosis (f; CRC); ERT (1; FAD; FNF; SKY); Fever (f; CRC; PED); High Cholesterol (1; APA; CAN; PED; PNC); Nephrosis (f; APA; CRC); Poor Milk Supply (1; FAD; FNF); Prostatosis (1; APA; FNF); Rheumatism (f; PED; MAD); Thyroidosis (f; PHR; PH2); Water Retention (1; CRC; PED; PH2); [HMH Duke]

Nutritional Information

Alfalfa– Medicago sativa [218] [PFAF]


"Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ. The seed can also be sown in situ in autumn[52]. Seed can be obtained that has been inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria, enabling the plant to succeed in soils where the bacteria is not already present." [PFAF]


"Alfalfa is a very versatile plant that can adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions from cold temperate to warm sub-tropical.[269]. It succeeds on a wide variety of soils[52, 269], but thrives best on a rich, friable, well-drained loamy soil with loose topsoil supplied with lime[269]. It does not tolerate waterlogging and fails to grow on acid soils[269]. Grows well on light soils[206]. The plant has a deep taproot and, once establishd, tolerates drought and extremely dry conditions[52, 269]. Prefers a neutral fertile soil[87] but succeeds in relatively poor soils so long as the appropriate Rhizobium bacteria is present[200]. A good bee plant[46] and a food plant for many caterpillars[30]. Alfalfa is a very deep rooting plant, bringing up nutrients from deep in the soil and making them available for other plants with shallower root systems. It is a good companion plant for growing near fruit trees and grape vines so long as it is in a reasonably sunny position, but it does not grow well with onions or other members of the Allium genus[201]. Growing alfalfa encourages the growth of dandelions[201]. Alfalfa has long been cultivated for its edible seed, which can be sprouted and eaten in salads. It is also grown as a green manure and soil restorer. There are many named varieties[183]. Botanists divide the species into a number of sub-species - these are briefly described below:- M. sativa caerulea (Less. ex Ledeb.)Schmalh. This sub-species is likely to be of value in breeding programmes for giving cold tolerance, drought resistance and salt tolerance to alfalfa. M. sativa falcata (L.)Arcang. This sub-species is likely to be of value in breeding programmes for giving cold tolerance, drought and disease resistance plus salt and water-logging tolerance to alfalfa. M. sativa sativa. The commonly cultivated form of alfalfa. M. sativa varia (Martyn.)Arcang. This sub-species is likely to be of value in breeding programmes for giving cold tolerance, drought resistance and high yields to alfalfa. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]." [PFAF]

Green Manure: "Often grown as a green manure. It is a bit slow to establish in its first year so is generally only recommended for positions where it can remain for 2 or more years. Alfalfa is very vigorous from its second year, producing a huge bulk of material that can be cut down 2 or 3 times during the season[20, 87]." [PFAF]

Nitrogen Fixer: "Plants are very deep rooting, descending 6 metres or more into the soil[200], and are able to fix large quantities of atmospheric nitrogen, this makes them one of the very best green manures. Plants are rather intolerant of competition from grass etc, however, and there is the drawback of needing to leave them in the soil for more than 2 years to fully achieve their potential[K]." [PFAF]

Biomass: "Alfalfa is a potenially excellent source of biomass. It is possible to produce more than 2 tonnes of protein from the leaves (suitable for human use) per hectare per year. In addition, the plant residues remaining could be used to produce the equivalent of about 10 barrels of oil per year[269]." [PFAF]

Hedge: "The plant can be grown as a low dividing hedge in the vegetable garden[52, 206]." [PFAF]

Forage: "Domestic animals initially probably lived primarily from grazing wild plants. Since grazing commonly is not possible on a year-round basis, animals presumably lived over inclement periods, as now, on harvested food, probably hay harvested from the wild and seeds of the cultivated human-food cereals. Medicago was probably the first forage crop to be domesticated (Lesins and Lesins, 1979)" [Azolla Isely]



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