|Section:||M. sect. Medicago|
Alfalfa (//) (Medicago sativa), also called lucerne, is a perennial flowering plant in the legume family Fabaceae. It is cultivated as an important forage crop in many countries around the world. It is used for grazing, hay, and silage, as well as a green manure and cover crop. The name alfalfa is used in North America. The name lucerne is the more commonly used name in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The plant superficially resembles clover (a cousin in the same family), especially while young, when trifoliate leaves comprising round leaflets predominate. Later in maturity, leaflets are elongated. It has clusters of small purple flowers followed by fruits spiralled in 2 to 3 turns containing 10–20 seeds. Alfalfa is native to warmer temperate climates. It has been cultivated as livestock fodder since at least the era of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Alfalfa sprouts are a common ingredient in dishes made in South Indian cuisine.
From Spanish alfalfa, from early form alfalfez, from Arabic الْفِصْفِصَة (al-fiṣfiṣa), الْفَصْفَصَة (al-faṣfaṣa, “alfalfa, lucerne”, literally “horse-food”).
- IPA(key): /ælˈfælfə/
alfalfa (countable and uncountable, plural alfalfas)
- (uncountable) A plant, principally of Medicago sativa, grown as a pasture crop.
- Synonym: lucerne (British)