Black medick  Medicago lupulina
 
FamilyFabaceae, Pea family
Perennial – up to 5 cm tall, c. 30 cm spread
Flowering – May to August
Soils  - all soils acid-alkaline
Sun   - Full sun or light shade
 
 
Black medick is a common plant with many alternative names - black nonesuch, black medic clover, hop clover, hop medic, black clover, black hay, blackweed, to name but some.  It was first recorded in 1629 by Thomas Johnson.1.  The name "medick" refers to its supposed origin in ancient Iran, and the plant seems to have had no medicinal value attributed to it.
 
Black medick has dense low-growing stems which provide for a thick springy lawn. It grows well on dry, harsh or coastal terrain, and in gardens will flourish between paving slabs or as a soft edging to gravel paths. It prefers full sun and flourishes on poor soil as it has nitrogen-fixing bacterial nodules that provide nitrates to the black medick and thence to the soil and other lawn plants.
 
The small one-seeded pods are black when ripe, giving the plant its English name. The specific Latin name lupulina means "wolf-like", and refers to the hop, or willow-wolf. Closely related is the spotted medick Medicago arabica (a native despite its specific name) with dark patches on each leaflet, and spiny, coiled, brownish pods. It is an annual species, and can also survive in lawns.
 
The trefoil leaves resemble those of many clovers, such as the native lesser trefoil Trifolium dubium, but are distinguished by the tiny sharp point at the tip of each leaflet, and the longer stalk of the central leaflet compared to the side leaflets. The tiny yellow flowers of black medick are clustered in compact glowing heads each with 20-40 flowers, while the more delicate lesser trefoil has clusters of 5–20 flowers.
 
The similar Hop trefoil Trifolium campestre has larger lemon yellow flowers with the top petal bent forwards over the flower. However this species only flourishes in lime-rich soils.
 
 
Black Medick  Medicago lupulina
 
FamilyFabaceae, Pea family
Perennial – up to 5 cm tall, c. 30 cm spread
Flowering – May to August
Soils  - all soils acid-alkaline
Sun   - Full sun or light shade
 
 
Black Medick  Medicago lupulina
 
FamilyFabaceae, Pea family
Perennial – up to 5 cm tall, c. 30 cm spread
Flowering – May to August
Soils  - all soils acid-alkaline
Sun   - Full sun or light shade
 
 
Black medick  Medicago lupulina
 
FamilyFabaceae, Pea family
Perennial – up to 5 cm tall, 30 cm spread
Flowering – May to August
Soils  - all soils acid-alkaline
Sun   - Full sun or light shade
 
 
              Spotted medick Medicago arabica             Lesser trefoil Trifolium dubium
 
 
Black medick is a foodplant for a large number of species of weevils, leaf-mining and gall midge flies, true bugs and lepidoptera.2. Among the butterflies are the common blue Polyommatus icarus, the rare summer-visiting pale clouded yellow Colias hyale and the beautiful day-flying burnet companion moth Euclidia glyphica.
 
 
References 
 
1.Pearman, D. (2017). The Discovery of the Native Flora of Britain and Ireland, A compilation of the first records for 1670 species and aggregates, covering Great Britain, Ireland, The Channel Isles and the Isle of Man. Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland. P.269
 
2.  See the Biological records Centre database  
 
 
Page written by Camilla Lambrick, compiled by Steve Head
 
Black medick is a common plant with many alternative names - black nonesuch, black medic clover, hop clover, hop medic, black clover, black hay, blackweed, to name but some.  It was first recorded in 1629 by Thomas Johnson.1.  The name "medick" refers to its supposed origin in ancient Iran, and the plant seems to have had no medicinal value attributed to it.
 
Black medick has dense low-growing stems which provide for a thick springy lawn. It grows well on dry, harsh or coastal terrain, and in gardens will flourish between paving slabs or as a soft edging to gravel paths. It prefers full sun and flourishes on poor soil as it has nitrogen-fixing bacterial nodules that provide nitrates to the black medick and thence to the soil and other lawn plants.
 
The small one-seeded pods are black when ripe, giving the plant its English name. The specific Latin name lupulina means "wolf-like", and refers to the hop, or willow-wolf. Closely related is the spotted medick Medicago arabica (a native despite its specific name) with dark patches on each leaflet, and spiny, coiled, brownish pods. It is an annual species, and can also survive in lawns.
 
The trefoil leaves resemble those of many clovers, such as the native lesser trefoil Trifolium dubium, but are distinguished by the tiny sharp point at the tip of each leaflet, and the longer stalk of the central leaflet compared to the side leaflets. The tiny yellow flowers of black medick are clustered in compact glowing heads each with 20-40 flowers, while the moe delicate lesser trefoil has clusters of 5–20 flowers.
 
The similar Hop trefoil Trifolium campestre has larger lemon yellow flowers with the top petal bent forwards over the flower. However this species only flourishes in lime-rich soils.
 
 
       Spotted medick Medicago arabica             Lesser trefoil Trifolium dubium
 
 
Black medick is a foodplant for a large number of species of weevils, leaf-mining and gall midge flies, true bugs and lepidoptera.2. Among the butterflies are the common blue Polyommatus icarus, the rare summer-visiting pale clouded yellow Colias hyale and the beautiful day-flying burnet companion moth Euclidia glyphica.
 
 
References 
 
1.Pearman, D. (2017). The Discovery of the Native Flora of Britain and Ireland, A compilation of the first records for 1670 species and aggregates, covering Great Britain, Ireland, The Channel Isles and the Isle of Man. Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland. P.269
 
2.  See the Biological records Centre database  
 
 
Page written by Camilla Lambrick, compiled by Steve Head
 
       Garden Wildplants
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