Description: Medicago lupulina is an annual or bi-annual plant. Sometimes long-lived thanks to adventitious buds on the roots. The plant measures from 15 to 60 cm in height, with fine stems often lying flat at the beginning of growth and later erecting. The nodes bear three leaves, carried by a long petal and have oval leaflets, partially toothed towards the tip. This species has very small yellow flowers which are grouped in tight bunches. The fruit is a pod that does not open upon maturation, is a little arched in form and bears a single seed. Note - it is sometimes confused with other plants that have small leaves divided into three leaflets and small yellow flowers, such as members of the Clover genus, like Hop Trefoil and Lesser Hop Trefoil and the false Shamrock genus, like Yellow Woodsorrel. This is a legume, a member of the pea family, and as such can be sown in the Autumn or Spring. Its long tap root makes it drought resistant and can be a source of winter green for livestock.
Distribution: This plant can be seen through the old world, all of Europe, a great part of Asia, including China, Korea and Taiwan, as well as the Indian sub-continent, North Africa, the islands of the Atlantic (the Canaries, Madeira) and throughout the United States, including Hawaii. It thrives in dry limestone grounds and coastal sand dunes, where it suffers less competition from the other plants. It is relatively cold resistant and can be seen in mountains up to 1800m.
Use: Medicago lupulina is sometimes used as a fodder plant. While being of good value, it isn't a very productive fodder. It is sometimes used in the composition of artificial meadows, especially when implanted in dry lands. It is a common sight in natural pastures. It is also one of the flowers that can be used to create honey.
Product Image and text, courtesy of Wikipedia.