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ative Photo: Dinesh Valke
Common name: Alfalfa, bastard medic, buffal herb, lucerne, purple medic, sand lucerne • Gujarati: વિલાયતી ઘાસ vilayati ghas • Hindi: लुसन घास lusan ghas • Kannada: ಲುಸರ್ನೆ ಸೊಪ್ಪು lusarne soppu, ವಿಲಾಯಿತಿ ಹುಲ್ಲು vilaayiti hullu • Marathi: विलायती गवत vilayati gavat • Oriya: ਦੁਰੇਸ਼ਤਾ dureshta, ਸਿੰਝੀ sinjhi • Sanskrit: अश्वाबला ashvabala • Tamil: குதிரை மசால் kutirai macal
Botanical name: Medicago sativa    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)

Alfalfa is a perennial herb with stems erect or sometimes prostrate, 0.3–1 m long, 5-25 or more per crown, much-branched, 4-angled. Rhizome is stout, penetrating the soil as much as 7-9 m. Stipules are united up to 1/3-1/2 of the length - free portion is triangular-lanceshaped, tapering, basally entire or with 1–2 teeth. Leaves are trifoliolate - leaflets are obovate- oblong, ovate or linear, tapering to base, toothed above middle, 1-4.5 cm long, 3–10 mm broad, smooth or appressed hairy, paler green beneath. Flower racemes are oval or rounded, 1-2.5 cm long, 1-2 cm broad, arising in leaf axils, 5-40-flowered. Stalk carrying the cluster is slender, firm, always exceeding the subtending leaf. Sepal cup is tubular, with linear- subulate teeth longer then tube. Flowers are yellow or blue to purple or violet, 6-15 mm long. Bracteoles are whitish, linear-subulate, mostly equaling the flower-stalk. Pod is 3-9 mm in diameter, with 2-3 spirals, prominently net-veined. Seeds are 6 or 8 per pod. Alfalfa is widely grown throughout the world as forage for cattle, and is most often harvested as hay. Alfalfa has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops, being used less frequently as pasture. Flowering: May-July.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed at Rajguru Nagar, Pune.
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