You are here

Wild alfalfa

Wild Alfalfa
Psoralidium tenuiflorum
(Family Fabaceae)

(see Photo 1)

Psoralidium tenuiflorum In the Field. Photo by Hallie Craycraft

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.

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

United States Distribution Map.

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

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

Psoralidium tenuiflorum.


Image Credits:

Psoralidium tenuiflorum field and lab. Photos by Hallie Craycraft

Kansas Distribution map.

United States Distribution map.


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.
Designed by Bioadventures.