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Medicago sativa L.
Common Name: ALFALFA
Coefficient of Conservatism: *
Coefficient of Wetness: 5
Wetness Index: UPL
Physiognomy: Ad P-Forb

Medicago sativa B. S. Walters

Roadsides, fields, and disturbed ground everywhere. A very important and variable crop plant, long cultivated and first collected in Michigan in 1859 in Washtenaw Co. Apparently a human-selected tetraploid hybrid of uncertain origin, widely naturalized.

The corolla of typical alfalfa is blue-purple (white in albinos), and the fruit is coiled at least 1.5–2 times at maturity. A yellow-flowered alfalfa with straight to C-shaped fruits has been called M. falcata L. or treated as a subspecies of M. sativa. It has not been collected in Michigan (although one cannot be certain of yellow-flowered plants lacking fruit). Our relatively frequent yellow-flowered plants are hybrids, which have been called M. ×varia Martyn. Insofar as they have fruit, they are indeed intermediate. The corollas may also be blue-green or variegated.


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MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. January 30, 2023.