Black medic

Encyclopedia Article

Black medic                  Medicago lupulina L.

Family:   Fabiaceae (Bean family)

Life cycle:  Annual

Habitat:  Poorly managed turf; waste areas.

Native status: Introduced

General description:  Prostrate growth habit forming mats 2 to 3 ft in diameter.  Leaves with three elliptic leaflets, margins of leaf end with very small teeth.   Leaflets up to ¾ in long.  Small, yellow flowers occur in ball-shaped cluster; at maturity the pods form cluster of black fruit.

Key ID traits:  Trifoliate leaves with small teeth on margins; clusters of small yellow flowers turning to black pods.

Similar species:  Yellow woodsorrel has a similar growth habit, but leaflets are heart-shaped and yellowish green.

Miscellaneous:   Introduced from Eurasia for use as forage and nitrogen fixation.

Trifoliate leaves, leaflets have a dentated margin.  Large stipules are present at the base of the leaf petiole. Yellow flowers are arranged in a tight, round cluster.

black seed pods
The clusters of yellow flowers mature into clusters of black seed pods.


Prostrate growth habit of black medic.