Medicago sativa subsp. falcata

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaFabaceaeMedicagoMedicago sativa subsp. falcata

Ecology

A perennial herb of grassy heaths, sea-walls, roadsides and tracks, chiefly found on calcareous soils and sands. It is often confined to the rear of roadside verges as it is sensitive to mowing. Lowland.

Status

Native

World Distribution

Eurosiberian Boreo-temperate element.

Atlas Change Index: -0.56

Distribution information

JNCC Designations

NBNSYS0000003219

Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

NOTE: The account below is for the sub-species. Closely related species and sub-species may have separate accounts listed elsewhere in the Online New Atlas

Medicago sativa L. subsp. falcata (L.) Arcang.

Sickle medick

Status: scarce

 

This subspecies occurs as a native on slightly acid coarse sands and gravels, and on chalk grasslands, in sites where competition is reduced by summer drought. It thrives in open or closed swards of non-aggressive plants, on sand banks at the rear of wide road verges and beside tracks where there is no animal access. It will not withstand rabbit grazing and is therefore absent from open heaths. Its numerous associates include Aira caryophyllea, Dactylis glomerata, Elytrigia repens, Galium verum and Ononis repens. It is also found as a casual over a wide area, but rarely persists for long.

It is a deep-rooted drought-resisting perennial, which spreads by seed.

This is still frequent in the Breckland (Trist 1979), but has apparently declined on the coast and in adjoining heaths. 

It is widespread in northern Europe and Asia, and widely introduced elsewhere. This subspecies has given rise to a few domesticated forms and is much used for breeding alfalfa resistant to cold, acid soils (Small & Jomphe 1989). It hybridises frequently with M. sativa subsp. sativa (lucerne, alfalfa). The hybrid, a fertile plant with a variety of flower colours, is locally frequent, especially on roadside verges.

 

D. A. Pearman

PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.