© Iralee Barnard
||2 - 3 feet
Erect stems support branching, spreading tops. Most leaves are composed of three
leaflets. Small, blue or purplish flowers are clustered near the ends of branches with as
many as 800 flower clusters on a single large plant.
Wild Alfalfa is widely but irregularly distributed. Thick stands give a distinct
bluish hue to the landscape. This characteristic prairie plant has a branching root system
that extends 6-10 feet into the soil. Because the roots of forbs vary in length, they draw
nutrients from different soil levels and make them available to other plants. Bacterial
nodules on the roots of Wild Alfalfa and other legumes produce nitrogen, which enriches
the soil. Cattle will eat this plant only in early spring. Wild Alfalfa is locally common
on prairies in the eastern half of the state.
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Text: Iralee Barnard
Design: Jim Mason