Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Medicago sativa
alfalfa, lucerne

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Roadsides, fields, wastelots, and other disturbed, open areas; often escaping from commercial cultivation.

Flowers: May-October

Origin: Introduced

Growth Duration: Annual, Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bees, butterflies


Usually glabrous perennial from a long taproot, the stems more or less erect, 3-10 dm. tall.


Leaves trifoliate, the leaflets elliptic-oblanceolate, finely dentate on the outer end, 2-4 cm. long. stipules entire.


Inflorescence of dense racemes on peduncles 1-3 cm, long arising in the leaf axils; flowers 20-100, usually bluish-purple, but often whitish, yellow, or even pink; calyx 5-toothed, nearly as long as the corolla; corolla pea-like, 4-5 mm. long, the banner erect, much longer than the wings and keel.


Pod many-seeded, coiled in 2-3 spirals, not armed.

Accepted Name:
Medicago sativa L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 2: 778-779. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Medicago sativa in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Medicago sativa checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Medicago sativa information.

E-Flora BC: Medicago sativa atlas page.

CalPhotos: Medicago sativa photos.

USDA Plants: Medicago sativa information.

43 photographs:
Group by