Medicago sativa L.

Family: Fabaceae

Pertinent Synonyms & Notes (particularly those used in California; go to GRIN for other synonyms)


Pertinent Common Names (particularly those used in California; go to GRIN for other common names)

alfalfa, lucerne

Primary Disseminule Types

fruit (not likely to be directly dispersed to grape bunches), seed

Description (diagnostics are in brown)

Fruit a 2–20-seeded pod, dehiscence variable, coiled 2–3 turns or straight or sickle-shaped, light to dark yellowish-brown, surface leathery, reticulately veined, glabrous to hairy.

Seed oval to reniform in outline with a distinct peripheral notch about midway along one of the long faces, somewhat compressed, cross-section ovate, twisted along long axis, shallow whitish grooves on either side of seed mark the separation of radicle from cotyledons (the radicle side is smaller and thinner), (1.5)2–2.5(3) mm long x 1.3–1.6(1.8) mm wide x 0.6–1.1 mm thick. Surface dull, smooth (finely textured under magnification), yellow to orangish-brown or olive green, with a large, irregularly-shaped, darkened area (“lens”) over the tips of the cotyledons.

Hilum in notch, round, ca. 0.1 mm diameter, whitish with a slit-like opening near its center.

Similar Species

Similar Species Comparison Chart

Risk Assessment (codes in yellow or red indicate cause for concern; assessments are current as of mid-2011; click AUQP, NZBORIC, or NZBPI for access to the most recent versions of these databases and possible assessment changes)