Lucerne - Medicago sativa subsp. sativa


Medium to tall, hairy plant erect to spreading. Flowers blue-violet 7 to 11 mm, in rather short racemes.   Pod spiralled.

Similar Species

There are several other subspecies of Medicago sativa, which may have different colour flowers (white, green, purple, yellow, blackish) and slight differences in the fruits. 

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

According to Stace (4th edition), the fruit is spiralled in 2-3 (4) compete turns, more or less closed in the centre

Recording advice

The County Recorder has asked for a specimen of this plant to be retained for verification - note that the specimen must have fruits


Waysides - and often in and around the margins of fields where the crop has been grown previously and has persisted.

When to see it

June and July.

Life History

Perennial widely cultivated as Alfalfa - Many records probably relate to remnants and escapes from previous crops.

UK Status

Most records come from Central and Southern England, scarce in North Western Britain.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland, sometimes residual from crops and persisting. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 55 of the 617 tetrads.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map