Medicago lupulina (Black Medick)
|Also known as:||Black Medic|
|Life cycle:||annual, short-lived perennial|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; disturbed soil; roadsides, waste areas, fields, lawns|
|Bloom season:||May - September|
|Plant height:||2 to 30 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Round flower heads ¼ to 1/3 inches across of 10 to 20 short-stalked flowers at the end of stems arising from leaf axils, the cluster stem much longer than the subtending leaf. Flowers are bright yellow, 1/8 inch or less long, pea-shaped with a broad upper petal (standard) and 2 small lateral petals covering the keel below. The calyx is hairy and has 5 narrow teeth.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in 3s, alternately attached on stalks up to 1¼ inch long. Leaflets are oval to diamond shaped, typically rounded at the tip and wedge-shaped at the base, to ¾ inch long and 1/3 inch across, hairy to varying degrees, and the end leaflet longer stalked than the lateral leaflets. The tip end of a leaflet may have fine teeth around the edge. Stems are sprawling to ascending, much branched, angled, and densely covered in fine white hairs but may become smoother with age.
Black Medick is a ubiquitous weed often seen hiding in the grass and may be overlooked because of the small flower size. It can grow erect, but is more often sprawling. Hop clovers (Trifolium species) have similar yellow flower heads, but are much larger.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?