Duration: Annual Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Herbaceous annuals, to 40 cm tall, stems procumbent, branching from the base, herbage soft-pubescent. Leaves: Alternate, pinnately trifoliate, leaflets obovate to obcordate, 8-20 mm long, margins sharply denticulate, stipules narrow and entire or short-toothed, peduncles 5-25 mm long. Flowers: Yellow, with banner, wing, and keel petals (papilionaceous),4-5 mm long, keel petal shorter than the wing or banner petals, calyx campanulate with subequal teeth, stamens diadelphous (9 fused, 1 free), borne in groups of 2-5, peduncles slender, 5-25 mm long. Fruits: Pods coiled 2-3 times, 4-6 mm in diameter, with long prickles, these arising from a raised ridge in 2-3 rows, pubescent between between the prickles. Ecology: Unknown, but considered rare in Arizona, Texas, and California. Distribution: Widespread throughout North America. Notes: Naturalized from Europe. Differentiate from the similar M. hispida by the soft-pubescent herbage, the narrow, entire to short-toothed stipules, and the pods armed with long prickles, pubescent between the prickles. Ethnobotany: There is no use recorded for this species, but other species in this genus have uses. Etymology: Medicago is derived from Medike, or medick, the Greek name for alfalfa, which came to Greece from Medea, while minima means of diminutive size. Synonyms: None Editor: LCrumbacher 2012
Much like no. 3 [Medicago polymorpha L.], but softly pubescent throughout; stipules entire or minutely toothed; lvs often smaller and shorter-petiolate; peduncles surpassed by the subtending lvs; 2n=16. Native of Eurasia, established as a weed in sandy soil from se. Va. to Fla. and Tex., and occasionally adventive farther n. May-Sept.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.