SEARCH AND WILDFLOWER HOME PAGE     BLUE/PURPLE FLOWERS      CONTACT US



Medicago sativa

Medicago sativa (Alfalfa)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane. Fields, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, June 6, 2004 and September 10, 2014.

This soft, lovely flower is so common as to go unnoticed. Alfalfa is grown as a crop of course ("sativa" is Greek for "planted"), but it also makes a beautiful yard or garden plant. It is very drought resistant and long and prolific in its flowering.  Plants grow to several feet tall and wide and bloom from late spring through fall.  Flower color is commonly very light to very deep purple, but it may be white or even (as shown below) yellow.

Seeds are contained in twisted pods that turn from green to light then dark brown. But notice that even with ripening seeds, the plant continues flowering.

Linnaeus named this genus of about five dozen Eurasian species in 1753.  It is believed that over 3,000 years ago Medicago sativa was first cultivated in, and named for, the ancient country of Media (present northwest Iran).

Medicago sativa (Alfalfa)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane. Fields, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, June 6, 2004.

Medicago sativa
Medicago sativa (Alfalfa)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
 

Foothills, montane. Fields, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Near McPhee Reservoir, July 13, 2010.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Medicago sativa