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Electronic Flora of South Australia species Fact Sheet

Family: Leguminosae
Medicago polymorpha

Citation: L., Sp. Pl. 779 (1753) var. polymorpha.

Synonymy: M. apiculata Willd., Sp. Pl. 3:1414 ( 1802); M. denticulata Willd., Sp. PI. 3:1414 (1802); M. denticulata Willd. var. brevispina Benth., Cat. Pyr. 103 (1826); M. denticulata Willd. var. vulgaris Benth., Cat. Pyr. 103 (1826); M. reticulata Benth., Cat. Pyr. 101 (1826); M. hispida Gaertner, Fruct. 2:349 (1791); M. hispida Gaertner var. apiculata Burnat, Fl. Alp. Marit. 2:106 (1896); M. hispida Gaertner var. denticulata Burnat, Fl. Alp. Marit. 2:106 ( 1896); M. hispida Gaertner forma apiculata Urban, App. Ind. Sem. Hort. Berol. 3 (1872); M. hispida Gaertner var. polygyra Urban forma inermis Urban, App. Ind. Sem. Hort. Berol. 4 (1872); M. hispida Gaertner forma denticulata (Willd.)Urban, App. Ind. Sem. Hort. Berol. 3 (1872); M. hispida Gaertner var. inermis Rouy in Rouy & Fouc., Fl. France 5:37 (1899); M. lappacea Desr. in Lam., Encycl. 3:637 (1792); M. hispida Gaertner 'race' lappacea (Desr.)Urban in Ash. & Graebner, Syn. Mitteleur. Fl. 6, 2:432 (1907); M. polymorpha L. var. apiculata Ooststr. & Reichg., Acta Bot. Neerl. 7:115 (1958); M. polymorpha L. var. brevispina (Benth.)Heyn, Ann. spp. Medicago 77 (1963); M. polymorpha L. var. polygyra (Urban)Shinn., Rhodora 58:9 (1956); M. polymorpha L. var. vulgaris (Benth.)Shinn. Rhodora 58:310 (1956). , Medicago confinis

Common name: Burr-medic, toothed medic.

Glabrous or pubescent annual; branches decumbent or ascending, to 40 cm long; leaflets obovate to obcordate, 10-20 x 8-18 mm, cuneate, dentate near the apex, sparsely hairy underneath; stipules lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, laciniate; peduncle l-8-flowered, longer or shorter than the corresponding petiole, with or without a cusp.

Flowers 4-6 mm long, on pedicels shorter than the calyx tube; bract lanceolate-subulate, usually longer than the pedicel; calyx equal to or slightly more than half the flower, sparsely covered with simple hairs, teeth narrow, acute, about equalling the length of the tube; petals yellow; standard broadly obovate, emarginate; wings longer than the keel.

Young pod protruding side-ways from the calyx, covered with straight or curly white hairs; mature pod discoid, short- to long cylindrical or conical-truncate, usually glabrous and spiny; coils 1.5-7, in a lax spiral 4-10 mm diam., turning anticlockwise; transverse veins strong, anastomosing freely before entering the lateral veins, central vein raised, conspicuous, flattened to concave, separated from the lateral veins by a deep groove, traversed by the roots of the spines or tubercles; spines if present to 18 in each row, 0.5-4 mm long, each prong arising from both the central and marginal veins, deeply grooved and often with a membrane between, inserted at 90 (on end coils) to 180 to the face of the coil, long ones usually hooked; seed 2.5-4 mm long, light-yellow to brownish, 1 or 2 in each coil, separated.

image of FSA2_Medicago_pol.jpg
Image source: fig. 350J in J.P. Jessop and H.R. Toelken Ed. 1986. Flora of South Australia (4th edn).

Published illustration: Cunningham et al. (1982) Plants o. f western New South Wales, p. 403.

Distribution:  In S.Aust. widely established and extending into the pastoral country.

S.Aust.: LE, NU, GT, FR, EA, EP, NL, MU, YP, SL, KI, SE.   All States.   Originally a Mediterranean species, now spread all over the world except in the cooler long winter areas.

Conservation status: naturalised

Flowering time: July — Dec.

SA Distribution Map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of South Australia

Biology: No text

Taxonomic notes: Some authorities accept as varieties those populations having pods with hooked spines, straight teeth and mere tubercles respectively (Heyn), but Lesins (p. 198) discusses thoroughly the variation in spiny and spineless types of populations and variations in chromosome and did not recognise any varieties.

Author: Not yet available

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