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Wild alfalfa

Wild Alfalfa
Psoralidium tenuiflorum
(Family Fabaceae)



(see Photo 1)

Psoralidium tenuiflorum In the Field. Photo by Hallie Craycraft


Diagnosis:
Growing in 76-91 cm (2.5-3.0’) tall bushes as well as singular plants 45 cm (1.5’) tall.

Leaf: Alternate, short-stalked, palmately compound, glabrous above with stiff hairs below, stem leaves 5 foliate, branch leaves 3 foliate, leaflets elliptic to oblanceolate, ½-2’’ long, ¼- ½’’ wide, margins entire, tips usually blunt.

Root: Taproot terminated by knobby caudex.

Inflorescence: Racemes, elongate, many flowered, terminal.

(See Photo 2) Psoralidium tenuiflorum Inflorescence. Photo by Hallie Craycraft

Flower: Calyces bell-shaped, corolla light blue to purple, classic Fabaceae flower shape (1 banner, 2 wings, 2 keels).

Sepals: 5 lobed, lower lobe slightly longer than upper 4 lobes, conspicuously glandular and dotted.

Pistil: Pale green, glabrous, surrounded by clusters of 2 stamens.

Fruit: Pods; egg-shaped, abruptly tapering, short beak, body slightly compressed, brown, smooth, shiny, 1/3’’ long, glandular-dotted, seeds smooth and often shiny brown.

(see Photo 3)

Psoralidium tenuiflorum Fruit. Photo by Hallie Craycraft

 

Flowering Period: May – July
 

Habitat: Rocky, sandy and dry prairies. Usually found in high quality habitats but can sometimes be found along roadsides.

 

Conservation Status: Not threatened.

 

Native Status: Native to prairies in the United States.

 

Distribution: Wild alfalfa can be found throughout most of Kansas

Kansas County Distributional Map for Psoralidium tenuiflorum
Kansas Distribution map. http://plants.usda.gov/

Wild alfalfa can be found in north and south central United States.


United States Distribution Map. http://plants.usda.gov/


Human Uses: Psoralidium tenuiflorum can be burned to ward off mosquitos.
 

References:
Great Plains Flora Association 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas pg. 691.

Psoralidium tenuiflorum. http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/scurfy_pea.htm

 

Image Credits:

Psoralidium tenuiflorum field and lab. Photos by Hallie Craycraft

Kansas Distribution map. http://plants.usda.gov/

United States Distribution map. http://plants.usda.gov/

 

Submitted By: Hallie Craycraft, July 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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