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Medicago lupulina

Medicago lupulina L.

Medicago lupulina L. var. cupaniana (Guss.) Boiss.

Medicago lupulina L. var. glandulosa Neilr.

Black Medic, Black Medick, Black Meddick

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusMedicagoFrom Latin medica, “alfalfa, lucerne,” in turn from Greek μηδική (πόα), “Median (grass).’Latin medica ‘alfalfa, lucerne,’ from Greek: median μηδική (πόα), “grass”
SpecieslupulinaFrom lupus, “wolf,” here meaning “hop-like” in its climbing

About plant names...

Black medic is a low-growing clover-like plant. It is a member of the very large pea family. Bacteria on its roots trap nitrogen, allowing it to grow in low nitrogen soils. It lives for one or two seasons. It grows throughout the world.

Identification: Black medic rarely exceeds 30" (76 cm) in height, and often remains much closer to the ground. It favors dry ground and alkaline (limestone) soils. It is easily confused with hop clovers. There are several closely similar varieties that are not documented here yet.


Medicago lupulina (Black Medic, Black Medick, Black Meddick)


Trifolium aureum
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Medicago lupulina
Common Name

Hop Clover

Black Medic
Plant Plants 6-18" (15-45 cm) high. Plant may reach up to 30" (76 cm) long


About ¾" (1.9 cm) high. Flowers turn brown and wilt, seeds fall to the ground instead of forming a fruit


Rounded, about ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm)


Groups of 3. Central leaf is not on a separate stem (petiole). Leaflets about ¾" (1.9 cm) long, ¼" (6.3 mm) wide.


Three leaves, with slightly serrated tips, center leaf on separate petiole
Stem Multiply branched, usually erect Often prostrate, light green or reddish green, covered with white hairs
Seeds Inconspicuous Black, coiled


Seedpods are “coiled”—this is probably the most unique feature of black medic
Range/ Zones

Habitats Grasslands, fields, roadsides, wastelands Prairies (black soil, clay), weedy meadows, old fields, cropland, pastures, vacant lots, landfills, cemeteries, lawns, areas along railroads and roadsides, and miscellaneous waste areas; common in low-cut lawns
Type Wild Wild
Occurrence Common  


Medicago lupulina (Black Medic, Black Medick, Black Meddick)

From Thomé, Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm, Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz., 1885.

Online References:

Medicago lupulina on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Medicago lupulina on Missouriplants.com

Medicago lupulina on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Medicago lupulina on Wikipedia

Medicago lupulina on CalPhotos

Medicago lupulina at Illinois Wildflowers

Medicago lupulina on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Medicago lupulina on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Medicago lupulina description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.

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