Medicago littoralis
Medicago granadensis bur
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Trifolieae
Genus: Medicago
Type species
Medicago sativa

See text.


Crimaea Vassilcz.[1]
Factorovskya Eig[1]
Kamiella Vassilcz.[1]
Lupulina Noulet[1]
Medica Mill.[1]
Pseudomelissitus Ovcz. et al.[1]
Radiata Medik.[1]
Rhodusia Vassilcz.[1]
Turukhania Vassilcz.[1]

Medicago (family: Fabaceae, the legume family) is a genus of flowering plants, commonly known as medick or burclover. The name is based on Latin medica 'alfalfa, lucerne,' from Greek: μηδική (πόα) 'Median (grass).'[2]

The best known member of the genus is alfalfa (also called lucerne) (M. sativa), an important crop.[3] The species Medicago truncatula is a model legume[4] due to its relatively small stature, genome (450–500Mb), short generation time (~3 months) and ability to reproduce both by outcrossing and selfing.

The Medicago genus contains 83 species, including the agriculturally important alfalfa (M. sativa), and is distributed mainly around the Mediterranean basin. Comprehensive descriptions of the genus are Lesinš and Lesinš 1979[5] and Small and Jomphe 1989.[6] Major collections are SARDI (Australia),[7] USDA-GRIN (USA),[8] ICARDA (Syria),[9] and the INRA collection in Montpellier (France).[10] Several molecular phylogenies containing most of the species are available, although they differ.[11][12]

Most members of the family are low, creeping herbs, resembling clover, but with burs (hence the common name). However, alfalfa grows to a height of 1 meter, and tree medick (M. arborea) is a shrub.



It is estimated that Medicago diverged from Glycine (soybean) 53–55 million years ago and from Lotus (deervetch) 49–51 million years ago[13]

Ecological Interactions with Other Organisms

Symbiosis With Nitrogen-fixing Rhizobia

Béna et al. (2005) constructed a molecular phylogeny of 23 Sinorhizobium strains and tested the symbiotic ability of 6 strains with 35 Medicago species.[11] Comparison of these phylogenies indicates many transitions in the compatibility of the association over evolutionary time. Furthermore, they propose that the geographical distribution of strains limits the distribution of particular Medicago species.

Agricultural Uses

Other than alfalfa, several of the creeping members of the family (such as Medicago lupulina and Medicago truncatula) have been used as forage crops.

Insect Herbivores

Medicago species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Common Swift, Flame, Latticed Heath, Lime-speck Pug, Nutmeg, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Turnip Moth and case-bearers of the genus Coleophora including C. frischella (recorded on M. sativa) and C. fuscociliella (feeds exclusively on Medicago spp).[citation needed]

List of Species

This list is compiled from.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Genus Nomenclature in GRIN". Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed., 2005), p. 1054, s.v. medick.
  3. ^ Alfalfa Crop Germplasm Committee Report, 2000
  4. ^ "Medicago truncatula". Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  5. ^ Lesinš, Karlis Adolfs; Lesinš, Irma (1979). Genus Medicago (Leguminosae). The Hague, The Netherlands: Dr. W. Junk bv Publishers. pp. 132. ISBN 9-06193-598-9. 
  6. ^ Small, E. and Jomphe, M. (1989). "A Synopsis of the Genus Medicago (Leguminosae)". Canad. J. Bot. 67 (11): 3260–94. doi:10.1139/b89-405. 
  7. ^ "SARDI". Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  8. ^ "GRIN National Genetic Resources Program". Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  9. ^ "ICARDA Sustainable Agriculture for the Dry Areas". Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  10. ^ "INRA". Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  11. ^ a b Béna, G., Lyet, A., Huguet, T., and Olivier, I. (2005). "MedicagoSinorhizobium symbiotic specificity evolution and the geographic expansion of Medicago". J. Evol. Biol. 18 (6): 1547–58. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2005.00952.x. PMID 16313467. 
  12. ^ Maureira Butler, I.J., Pfeil, B.E., Muangprom, A., Osborn, T.C. and Doyle, J.J. (2008). "The reticulate history of Medicago (Fabaceae)". Systematic Biology 57 (6): 466–482. doi:10.1080/10635150802172168. PMID 18570039. 
  13. ^ Cannon, Steven (2008). "3. Legume Comparative Genomics". In Stacey, Gary. Genetics and Genomics of Soybean. Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models. II. New York, NY: Springer. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-387-72298-6. 
  14. ^ "ILDIS LegumeWeb". Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  15. ^ "Genera Containing Currently Accepted Names: Medicago". Retrieved 2008-11-18. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Species Nomenclature in GRIN". Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  17. ^ "IPNI Plant Name Query Results". Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  18. ^ "AgroAtlas - Relatives". Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  19. ^ "ITIS". Retrieved 2009-09-16.  (enter Medicago as the search term)
  20. ^ "Discover Life". Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  21. ^ eFloras
  22. ^ The Biota of North America Program
  23. ^ The Plant List

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Medicāgo — (M. L., Schneckenklee), Pflanzengattung[61] aus der Familie der Papilionaceae Loteae Trifolieae, Diadelphie, Decandrie L.; fünfspaltiger od. fünfzähniger Kelch, Schmetterlingsblumen mit stummem Schiffchen, zweibrüderigen Staubgefäßen,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Medicāgo — L. (Luzerne, Spagelklee, Schnecken , Sichelklee), Gattung der Leguminosen, ein oder mehrjährige Kräuter, seltener Halbsträucher oder baumartige Sträucher mit gefiederten Blättern, drei, meist gezähnelten Blättchen und dem Blattstiel angewachsenen …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Medicago — Medicāgo L., Schneckenklee, Pflanzengattg. der Leguminosen, niederliegende Kräuter mit sichel oder schneckenförmigen Hülsen, häufig angebaut M. satīva L., die Luzerne (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Medicago —   [griechisch, nach der Landschaft Medien], wissenschaftlicher Name der Pflanzengattung Schneckenklee.   …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Medicago — Luzerne (genre) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Luzerne …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Medicago —   Medicago …   Wikipedia Español

  • Medicago — Schneckenklee Medicago littoralis, blühende Pflanze mit unreifen Früchten Systematik Unterklasse: Rosenähnliche …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Medicago — ID 52318 Symbol Key MEDIC Common Name alfalfa Family Fabaceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity N/A US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Medicago — liucerna statusas T sritis augalininkystė apibrėžtis Pupinių (Fabaceae), seniau ankštinių (Leguminosae), šeimos augalų gentis. atitikmenys: lot. Medicago angl. alfalfa; lucerne rus. люцерна …   Žemės ūkio augalų selekcijos ir sėklininkystės terminų žodynas

  • Medicago — noun a genus of herbs that resemble clover • Syn: ↑genus Medicago • Hypernyms: ↑rosid dicot genus, ↑Papilionoideae, ↑subfamily Papilionoideae • Member Meronyms: ↑medic, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary