Lucerne

Medicago sativa

     

Description

Morphology

Perennial legume of large size (50 to 100 cm) with strong and deep taproots. The collar is very developed. The upright, often smooth stems carry trifoliate leaves, of obovate, mucronate shape. The inflorescences in the shape of short pyramid-shaped clusters carry from 8 to 25 violets or multicoloured flowers. The highly spiral and smooth pods contain reniform seeds, yellowish, sometimes hard and with TKW of 2 g (Thousand kernel weight). This is a cross-pollinating species, entomiphilous and allotetraploid at 2n=32.

Geography & History
Medicago sativa is,among other places, found in France and Western Europe. The first traces of its cultivation date from about 1300 BC in the Fertile Crescent, although it is generally accepted that the practice goes back much further in time, about 8,000 to 9,000 years. It was subsequently found in southern Europe at the time of the Roman Empire. The Phoenicians also contribute to its spread through their maritime journeys. After the Middle Ages and the Arab conquests of the Iberian Peninsula, we can find it cultivated throughout southwest of Europe.
We can also find its spontaneous subspecies Medicago s. falcata (with yellow flowers) which has the particularity of being very resistant to cold, due to its implantation in the north-east of France. Their hybridisation gave rise to Flemish Lucernes which spread into the northern plains, and all the way to Parisian basin.

Culture

Chemical Composition
In % Water Nitrogen Fat Soluble carbohydrates Fibrous carbohydrates Ashes
Forage: green
Forage: hay
Usage
Interest
  • Very high forage yield
  • Strong summer growth
  • Good resistance to cold
  • High protein content
  • Species combines well with orchard grass and bromine
Limitations
  • Sensitivity to excess water
  • Difficult haymaking in the spring
  • Delicate for grazing as a pure crop, high risk of bloating
Techniques
Seedlings Period Spacing Depth Amount sown
In rows – cm – cm – kg/ha

 

In q/ha In green In hay In grain
Yield 0-0 0-0

 


Other sources of information

Three main publications regarding a kind of Medicago:

  • NEGRE R., 1956. Les luzernes du Maroc. Work of the “Institut Scientifique Chérifien”. Série botanique n°5. 119 pp. Revised in 1959 in the Bulletin of the Natural History Society of North Africa, 50, 267?314.
  • HEYN C., 1963. The annual species of Medicago. Scripta hierosolymitana. Hebrew university, Jérusalem,. 154 pp.
  • LESINS K.A., LESINS L., 1979. Genus M

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