Alfalfa

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This article is about plant and flower. For the actor and character of the series Our Gang, see Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer. For the community in Central Oregon, see Alfalfa, Oregon. Alfalfa

Medicago sativa
Scientific classification

Kingdom:Plantae

(unranked):Angiosperms

(unranked):Eudicots

(unranked):Rosids

Order:Fabales

Family:Fabaceae

Genus:Medicago

Species:M. sativa
Binomial name

Medicago sativa
L.[1]

Subspecies
Medicago sativa subsp. ambigua (Trautv.) Tutin
Medicago sativa subsp. microcarpa Urban
Medicago sativa subsp. sativa L.
Medicago sativa subsp. varia (T. Martyn) Arcang.
Alfalfa ( /ælˈfælfə/; Medicago sativa) is a perennial flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop in the US, Canada, Argentina, France, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, and many other countries. The English name is adopted from the Spanish, originally alfalfez, which in turn is derived from the Arabic al-fisfisa "fresh fodder". The Spanish name is widely used, particularly in the US but it is also known as lucerne in the UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, erba medica in Italy, meaning medical herb, luzerne in France, and lucerne grass in south Asian English. It superficially resembles clover, with clusters of small purple flowers followed by fruits spiralled in 2 to 3 turns containing 10-20 seeds. Alfalfa has been cultivated by humans since at least the 4th century CE and has some use in herbal medicine. Contents

1 Ecology
2 Culture
3 Harvesting
4 Worldwide production
5 Alfalfa and bees
6 Varieties
o6.1 Genetically modified alfalfa
6.1.1 Legal issues with Roundup Ready alfalfa in the US
7 History
8 Phytoestrogens in alfalfa
9 Medical uses
10 Vitamin D
11 Gallery
12 References
13 External links

Ecology
Alfalfa is a perennial forage legume which normally lives 4–8 years, but can live more than twenty years, depending on variety and climate.[2] The plant grows to a height of up to 1 meter (3 ft), and has a deep root system, sometimes stretching more than 15 meters (49 ft).[2] This makes it very resilient, especially to droughts.[2] It has a tetraploid genome.[3] Alfalfa is a small seeded crop, and has a slowly-growing seedling, but after several months of establishment, forms a tough 'crown' at the top of the root system. This crown contains many shoot buds that enables alfalfa to re-grow many times after being grazed or harvested. This plant exhibits autotoxicity, which means it is difficult for alfalfa seed to grow in existing stands of alfalfa.[4] Therefore, it is recommended that alfalfa fields be rotated with other species (for example, corn or wheat) before reseeding.[5] Culture

Alfalfa is widely grown throughout the world as forage for cattle, and is most often harvested as hay, but can also be made into silage, grazed, or fed as greenchop.[6] Alfalfa usually has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops. It is used less frequently as pasture.[5] When grown on soils where it is well-adapted, alfalfa is often the highest yielding forage plant, but its primary benefit is the combination of high yield per hectare and high nutritional quality.[7] Its primary use is as feed for high producing dairy cows—because of its high protein content and highly digestible fiber—and secondarily for beef cattle, horses, sheep, and goats.[8][9] Humans also eat alfalfa sprouts in salads and sandwiches.[10][11] Dehydrated alfalfa leaf is commercially available as a dietary supplement in several forms, such as tablets, powders and tea.[12] Alfalfa is believed by some to be a galactagogue, a substance that induces lactation.[13] Alfalfa can cause bloating in livestock, care must be taken with livestock grazing on alfalfa because of its high bloat...
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