Black Medic
Medicago lupulina L.
Family: Fabaceae, Pea
Genus: Medicago
Synonyms:
Other names: black medick
Nomenclature: lupulina = small wolf (for climbing)
Nativity / Invasiveness: introduced plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: plant length: 10-40 cm long. Growth habit: creeping to ascending annual or biennial. Stems: much branched at base, 4-angled, almost hairless or with fine, flat, hairs.

Leaves: alternate, divided into 3 leaflets, elliptic to obovate, 5-20 mm long, almost hairless to finely flat- short-hairy. End leaflet stalked. Stipules narrowly lance-shaped, entire to shallowly small-toothed.

Flowers: yellow, 2-3 mm long, 10-40 in short, rounded, stalked clusters, 5-10 mm long, from upper leaf axils. Calyx nearly as long as the corolla. May-August.

Fruits: pods, 1-seeded, 2-3 mm long, heavily net-veined, not prickled, hairless to softly hairy, turning black at maturity, reniform in outline and curved to not quite one spiral, the style curved into a second spiral.


Distribution

On disturbed ground and sandy or gravelly soil in most of MT except in some n. areas. Introduced from Europe and found throughout most of the U.S.
Edible Uses

The leaves of black medick are edible cooked and can be used as a potherb. The seeds can be cooked, then parched and eaten or ground into a powder. The seed is said to contain trypsin inhibitors. These can interfere with certain enzymes that help in the digestion of proteins, but are normally destroyed if the seed is sprouted first.



Medicinal Uses

Aqueous extracts of the plant have antibacterial properties against micro-organisms. The plant has agents that are capable of easing pain or discomfort.


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