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Medicago lupulina - L.

Common Name Black Medick
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Grassy places and roadsides[17], often occurring as a garden weed on acid and calcareous soils[1].
Range Europe, including Britain, south and east to N. Africa, the Atlantic Islands and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Medicago lupulina Black Medick

Medicago lupulina Black Medick


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Medicago lupulina is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Meadow; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses:

Leaves - cooked[105]. Used as a potherb[183]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Seed - cooked[2, 105, 161]. Parched and eaten or ground into a powder[183]. The seed is said to contain trypsin inhibitors[218]. These can interfere with certain enzymes that help in the digestion of proteins, but are normally destroyed if the seed is sprouted first.

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 23.3g; Fat: 3.3g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 24.7g; Ash: 10.3g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 1330mg; Phosphorus: 300mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 450mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 2280mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Lenitive

Aqueous extracts of the plant have antibacterial properties against micro-organisms[218, 240]. The plant is lenitive[218, 240]. One of our users has sent the following information 'Trypsin inhibitors can be inactivated by the application of heat, for example, boiling for 9 minutes. (Trypsin inhibitors are found in soy). L-canavanine can be destroyed by heat as well. Major saponins in alfalfa but also black medick, known as medicagenic acid and its derivatives, have major antifungal/antimycotic activity that could lend to better medical applications than existing antimycotic drugs that are limited in number and abilities. Medical applications meaning mycoses, which is a consequence of widespread use of immunospuppressive drugs used in transplants, cytotoxic chemotherapy in cancer treatments, broad spectrum antibiotics, recurring mycotic infections in those suffering of AIDS, and a recent hazard of previously agricultural niche saprophyte fungi that are becoming etiological agents and are relatively resistant to conventional therapies.'

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Green manure

A good green manure plant, it is fairly deep rooted, has good resistance to 'Clover rot' but it is not very fast growing[87]. It can be undersown with cereals, succeeding even in a wet season[87].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Dislikes acid soils[87]. (This conflicts with the notes on its habitat above.) Dislikes shade. A good food plant for many caterpillars[30]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is suckering with new plants from runners away from the plant [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ[200]. The seed can also be sown in situ in autumn. Green manure crops can be sown in situ from early spring until early autumn[87]. (the later sowings are for an over-wintering crop)

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Medicago arboreaMoon TrefoilShrub2.0 7-10  LMHNDM20 
Medicago polymorphaToothed Bur-Clover, BurcloverAnnual0.6 0-0  LMNDM203
Medicago sativaAlfalfa, Yellow alfalfaPerennial1.0 4-11 MLMHNDM434

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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