Medicago sativa subsp. sativa


Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Erect or ascending perennial herb; stems 30–120 cm long, glabrous or sparsely hairy; hairs simple. Leaflets narrow-obovate to oblong, 5–30 mm long, 3–15 mm wide, dentate towards apex, upper surface glabrous, lower surface appressed-hairy, apex rounded or truncate with a terminal tooth; stipules to c. 10 mm long, entire or dentate, lower surface hairy. Inflorescence 8–35-flowered; peduncle 1.5–6 cm long, much longer than subtending petiole. Pedicels to c. 2 mm long; calyx 4.5–7 mm long, teeth longer than tube; corolla purple or mauve; standard 6–13 mm long; wings longer than keel. Pod with 1–3 loose coils, discoid or lenticular, 1.5–6.5 mm long, 3–8 mm diam., with a central hole, glabrous or with simple appressed hairs, spineless; coil edge thin; face reticulate-veined; marginal vein raised above level of submarginal veins; grooves absent; seeds 2–10, to c. 2.5 mm long, greenish-yellow or brown.  Flowers mainly Sep.–May

*CVU, *DunT, *GipP, *Gold, *HNF, *HSF, *MuF, *MuM, *NIS, *OtP, *RobP, *Strz, *VRiv, *VVP, *WaP, *Wim. Scattered widely across northern Victoria and less common in the south; occurs mostly in pastures, disturbed ground and along road verges.

According to Small & Jomphe (1989) the M. sativa complex consists of 5 subspecies and 1 hybrid. Using their criteria—mainly pod characteristics and flower colour—most cultivars and naturalized forms in Australia appear to be referable to M. sativa subsp. sativa.

One of the world’s most valuable and widely cultivated fodder plants.

Source: Jeanes, J.A. (1996). Fabaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Fabales
family Fabaceae
genus Medicago
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Medicago sativa subsp. sativa in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Medicago sativa subsp. sativa in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Murray Mallee present naturalised
Wimmera present naturalised
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Robinvale Plains present naturalised
Murray Fans present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Otway Plain present naturalised
Warrnambool Plain present introduced
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Dundas Tablelands present naturalised
Northern Inland Slopes present naturalised
Highlands-Southern Fall present introduced
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised
Strzelecki Ranges present naturalised