Medicago sativa

Lucerne, alfalfa                                                                                             Μηδική  πόα

Fabaceae - pea family                                                                                                Dicot.


Thought to be the worlds first crop grown as animal fodder, lucerne, known as alfalfa in N. America, is not native to Greece, but was introduced in ancient times (an archaeophyte), probably by the Persian armies of King Darius, who fed it to their warhorses. It was grown in abundance in the lands east of the Mediterranean. The ancient and modern Greek name mediki (μηδίκη) comes from Medea, an area of ancient Persia where there were fields of blue medic and many fine horses; the name has been adopted as the epithet for the whole genus.

Today Lucerne continues to be an important fodder crop throughout the world. It is thought to be highly nutritious to humans as well as giving vigour to race horses, however in excess amounts can be poisonous to both.

The yellow subspecies Medicago sativa ssp. falcata has been recorded in Skopelos and the blue Medicago sativa ssp. sativa shown here was found in a derelict garden near the top of the town possibly naturalised from a cultivated plant.

8-12mm, 2-4cm,
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Medicago from Greek Mediki (Μηδιίκη) from the area of Persia where the plant was first cultivated

sativa - the botanical latin for plants which are cultivated

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