L., Sp. Pl. 778 (1753).
Synonymy: Medicago caerulea, Medicago sativa
Common name: Lucerne, alfalfa. (Ilk Cunningham et al. (1982) Plants of western New South Wales, p. 404.)
More or less pubescent deep-rooted perennial; branches ascending or erect, 30-120 cm long, more or less striate lengthwise; leaflets obovate to almost linear, 5-25 x 3-10 mm (in S. Aust.), long-cuneate, dentate at the apex, midrib ending in a terminal tooth, more or less softly villous on both surfaces; stipules lanceolate to linear-subulate, entire or dentate at the base; peduncle cuspidate, several times longer than the corresponding petiole; flowers distally 7-35 in an elongated loose spiral.
Flowers 5-12 mm long, on short stout erect (in fruit) pedicels, equal to or longer than the calyx tube; bracts linear-lanceolate, c. 2 mm long, acuminate; calyx half the length of the flower, more or less villous with long appressed hairs; teeth subulate, 1 or 2 times as long as the conical green tube; petals violet, purplish, rarely pink or white; standard twice or more as long as wide, with parallel sides in its middle part; wings longer than the keel.
Young pod rising from the calyx, then bending sideways; mature pod coiled in a spiral (in S. Aust.) of 1-3 turns usually with a hole through the centre, glabrous or with appressed simple (rarely glandular) hairs, spineless; coils turning clockwise, 3-9 mm (5-6 mm in S. Aust.) diam.; transverse veins anastomosing and forming a transversely or radially elongated network; dorsal suture vein slender but distinct, splitting lengthwise when seed is shed; seed obliquely reniform, 1.2-2.5 x 1-1.5 mm, yellow, greenish-yellow or brownish, smooth.
Image source: fig. 351B in J.P. Jessop and H.R. Toelken Ed. 1986. Flora of South Australia (4th edn).|
S.Aust.: NU, GT, FR, EA, EP, NL, MU, YP, SL, SE. It is under cultivation or adventive in all States.
Flowering time: at all times of the year, depending on availability of water.
SA Distribution Map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of South Australia
Probably evolved around the Caspian Sea, introduced throughout the world as a valuable pastoral plant and forms of lucerne are now available for use in different climatic Situations.
Very variable, particularly in Europe, where a number of distinct taxa have been recognised. In view of the overall variation and the known frequency of hybridisation, according to Turin (1968) Fl. Europaea 2:154, 5 subspecies are recognised. Introduction to S. Aust. was mostly intentional and several attempts from different parts of Europe were made; here in the wild the best known forms are variants which it has been found impractical
Not yet available