Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)
Key facts about Black Medick
- Height: 5-60cm
- Flowering Time: May – August
- Flower colour: Bright yellow
- Growth habit: Prostrate stems 3-lobed leaves that are easily confused with clover. Small, round flowerheads are yellow in colour and contain as many as 50 separate flowers.
- Habitat: Very common in the UK. Find Black medick on mown grassland as well as dry grassland and disturbed calcareous soils. Prefers to grow in full sun.
- Appears in: Species Rich Wildflower Turf
It’s easy to mistake Black Medick for clover – until you see the two species side by side. Black Medick has the three lobed leaves like so many legumes but they are smaller than clover, more delicate and more widely spaced.
The flowers are tiny and look like little yellow baubles on the ground. Look closer and you’ll see that they are made from lots of small flowers, each one a similar shape to a vetch or a pea flower. For Black medick comes from that very special family of flowers who can fix nitrogen into the soil.
Uses for Black Medick
The name of this plant implies that it has some sort of medicinal use. It does reportedly have a mild laxative effect when eaten but the name has nothing to do with any remedies. It actually means “plant of the Medes”, a people of ancient Persia.
Black Medick is an excellent fodder crop. It’s early flowering habit also makes it a favourite plant of bumble bees and honey bees.
The leaves and seeds are edible. Some historians believe that Native Americans may have roasted the seeds or ground them into flour. Add some leaves to a salad – but taste them first. Some say they have quite a bitter flavour.
We’ve included Black medick in our species rich turf for several reasons
- Bee friendly
- Low growing
- Tolerates mowing well
- Frost hardy
- Cheery coloured flowers
Species rich turf is for low maintenance natural lawns. Mow once a fortnight and enjoy seeing all the wildlife visit your garden.