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Wild Alfalfa

Photo by Iralee Barnard

Common Name: Wild Alfalfa

Scientific Name: Psoralidium tenuiflorum

Family: Bean

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 2 - 3 feet

Bloom Period: June

 

Description: 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.

Comments: 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.