#132 Black Medic

132 Black Medic (Medicago lupulina)

10 July

Commonly known as black medick, nonesuch, or hop clover, is a plant of dry grassland belonging to the legume or clover family. Plants of the genus Medicago, or bur clovers, are closely related to the true clovers (Trifolium) and sweet clover (Melilotus). Like the true clovers, black medick has three leaflets and a small, yellow flower closely resembling those of lesser trefoil. Black medick belongs to the same genus as alfalfa. Thrives in dry to moist, well-drained soils containing sand, loam, or clay, and is a pioneer plant, often growing on disturbed ground. It grows in alkaline, neutral, and mildly acidic conditions. It does not grow in shady areas.

The name has nothing to do with any supposed deical properties of the plant. The generic name, Medicago, is derived, via Latin medica, from Ancient Greek Μηδική (Mēdikḗ) “Median”, because alfalfa was believed to have been introduced from the region of Media (now in Iran) in antiquity. The specific name, lupulina, means “wolf-like,” and refers to the hop, or willow-wolf.

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