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Organism
Record information and status
Record ID
12100
Status
Published
Date of creation
2006-04-05 10:41 UTC (kirsty.mclean.consultant@cbd.int)
Date of last update
2014-06-10 15:56 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2014-06-10 15:56 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)

Organism information
Scientific name
Medicago sativa
Taxonomic Classification
KingdomPlantae
PhylumMagnoliophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderFabales
FamilyFabaceae
GenusMedicago
SpeciesMedicago sativa
Common name(s)
Alfalfa
Lucerne
MEDSV
Additional Classification
Type of organism
Organism domestication
  • Domesticated
Characteristics related to biosafety
Centre(s) of origin
Medicago sativa is a cultigen species derived mainly from M. coerulea which is indigenous to southwestern Iran, the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia.

Domestication appears to have started in the Bronze Age probably somewhere between 1000 and 2000 BC in the Near East. The initial cultivation of Lucerne is thought to have been stimulated by the need to feed horses. Horses started being domesticated in Central Asia at about 2500 BC and were brought into the Near East by invaders from Central Asia. By 400 BC, Lucern was being grown in Europe.
Geographical distribution
The US is the largest alfalfa producer in the world, but considerable production is found in Canada, Argentina (primarily grazed), Southern Europe, Australia, South Africa, and the Middle East.
Common use(s)
  • Feed
  • Food
Additional Information
Additional Information
Lucerne is the most important of the world's forage crops and was domesticated for feeding animals rather than for direct human consumption. There are a wide variety of Medicago sativa cultivars some of which are the product of hybridisation with other wild Medicago species in Europe and Asia. Different cultivars do better in different climatic extremes.

Seed production by Lucerne can be detrimentally affected by poor pollination, often because honeybees (Apis mellifera) learn to avoid triggering the anthers and releasing pollen when extracting nectar. Solitary bees such as bumblebees (Bombus) are the best pollinators.
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Records referencing this document (7)
IDDescription
7record(s) found
Gene and DNA Sequence1 record
Information Resource1 record
Modified Organism5 records