Medicago sativa

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Legend for Species Pages


Medicago sativa L.

  • Moss, Flora of Alberta – Common
  • Global Invasive Species Database – No
  • NatureServe Rank – Insignificant
  • Haber, Upland – Minor
  • Haber, Wetland – No
  • CWF, Status & Invasive Range – Potential, SK, AB, MB, ON, QC, NF, NB, NS
  • Alberta Revegetation Guidelines – No
  • The Nature Conservancy – No
  • CBCN – Potential
  • AB Weed – No


Plantings in disturbed areas spread into adjacent undisturbed prairie. Invasion of grassland can be problematic for cattle producers because even small amounts of fresh Alfalfa can cause bloat, sometimes fatal. A transgenic Roundup Ready variety has been approved in the US, where some seed producers report finding the glyphosate resistance gene in seed of other varieties, but is on hold pending further court-ordered USDA studies of risk and costs of spread of the gene.

Edible: flowers and leaves can be used for tea (which is said to be little better than coloured hot water), and dried leaves can be added to other foods as a supplement. In quantity, can interfere with blood clotting, and cause bloat.

[1] Link to Wikipedia, Alfalfa - "...cultivated as an important forage crop in many countries around the world. The Spanish-Arabic name alfalfa is widely used, particularly in North America and Australia. But in the UK,[4] South Africa and New Zealand, the more commonly used name is lucerne

"... native to warmer temperate climates. It has been cultivated as livestock fodder since at least the era of the ancient Greeks and Romans

"...a perennial forage legume which normally lives four to eight years, but can live more than 20 years, depending on variety and climate[5]

"... a small-seeded crop, and has a slowly growing seedling, but after several months of establishment, forms a tough 'crown' at the top of the root system. This crown contains many shoot buds that enables alfalfa to regrow many times after being grazed or harvested

"... exhibits autotoxicity, which means it is difficult for alfalfa seed to grow in existing stands of alfalfa[7]..."

[2] Link to USDA Plants Profile for Medicago sativa L. alfalfa

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Kershaw, Linda, Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies ISBN 1-55105-229-6

"Transgenic Hay Mowed", Science, Volume 316, Number 5826, Issue of 11 May 2007