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Spotted Medick

Medicago arabica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Beaches, fields, grassland, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

Yellow, 4 petals
The Spotted Medick (Medicago arabica) produces small, typically yellow flowers. These flowers are quite diminutive, measuring around 5-6 millimetres in diameter. They have a simple, five-petal structure and a bright yellow colouration, although in some cases, they may appear white or cream-coloured. The flowers are arranged in clusters and are known for attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies. Despite their small size, they contribute to the plant's overall appearance and play a crucial role in its reproduction by facilitating pollination.
The fruit of the Spotted Medick (Medicago arabica) consists of small, coiled seed pods, which are known as "seed pods" in UK English. These pods have a spiraled or coiled appearance and are typically quite small in size. They develop after the flowering period and contain seeds that can be dispersed to propagate new plants.
The leaves of the Spotted Medick (Medicago arabica) are compound and consist of three leaflets. In UK English, these leaflets are referred to as "leaflets" rather than "leafs." The leaflets are typically small and are arranged in a tri-foliate pattern on the stem.
The Spotted Medick (Medicago arabica) typically does not possess a strong fragrance in the UK or other regions where it grows. In UK English, it is not known for having a distinctive or pronounced fragrance.
Other Names:
Arab Alfalfa, Heart Clover, Spotted Burclover.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Medicago arabica, also known as Arab alfalfa, is a perennial legume in the Fabaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region and Western Asia. It typically grows to a height of 40cm and has small, yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The leaves are trifoliate and the plant has a low-growing habit. It prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. It is often used as a forage crop for livestock and as a cover crop to improve soil fertility. It is considered a valuable resource for farmers because it is drought-resistant and can fix nitrogen in the soil. It can be propagated by seed or by cuttings.


Spotted Medick, also known as Medicago arabica, is a small, annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region but has since spread to other parts of the world, including North America and Asia.

The Spotted Medick plant has a small stature, typically reaching only about 30-40 cm in height. The leaves are composed of three leaflets, with each leaflet being oval-shaped and about 1-2 cm long. The flowers are small and yellow, and they bloom from spring to early summer. The seeds are small and kidney-shaped, and they are often used as animal feed.

Spotted Medick is an adaptable plant and can grow in a variety of soil types, from sandy to clay soils. It also has a high tolerance for drought and can grow in areas with low rainfall. It is often found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, fields, and waste areas.

The Spotted Medick plant has several medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is said to have diuretic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and is used to treat a variety of conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Spotted Medick also has agricultural benefits. The plant is often used as a cover crop and forage crop for livestock. It is a nitrogen-fixing plant, meaning it can convert nitrogen from the air into a form that plants can use, which helps to enrich the soil.

However, despite its benefits, Spotted Medick can also be considered a weed in some areas. It can spread rapidly and can compete with other plant species for resources. Therefore, it is important to manage its growth in areas where it is not wanted.

Spotted Medick is also known for its ability to attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. The flowers produce nectar and pollen that provide a food source for these insects, making it an important plant for supporting local ecosystems.

The plant's small size and adaptability also make it an ideal plant for urban environments, where space is limited and soil conditions may not be optimal. It can be used as a ground cover or planted in containers, providing a splash of color and interest to small spaces.

Spotted Medick has also been studied for its potential as a source of bioactive compounds with potential health benefits. Studies have found that the plant contains compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may have potential applications in the development of new drugs or nutraceuticals.

In some cultures, Spotted Medick has also been used for culinary purposes. The seeds can be sprouted and added to salads or sandwiches, while the leaves can be used as a vegetable or added to soups and stews.

In addition to its agricultural and medicinal uses, Spotted Medick has also been studied for its potential as a phytoremediation plant. Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove or detoxify pollutants from the environment. Spotted Medick has been found to be effective at removing heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and zinc from contaminated soils.

The plant's ability to fix nitrogen also makes it a valuable component of sustainable agriculture. By adding Spotted Medick to crop rotations, farmers can reduce their reliance on synthetic fertilizers and improve soil health.

Spotted Medick is also an important plant for wildlife. The seeds are a food source for a variety of bird species, including quail, doves, and finches. The leaves and stems are also eaten by some mammals, such as rabbits and deer.

Despite its many benefits, Spotted Medick can also be harmful to some livestock species. The plant contains a compound called saponin, which can cause digestive upset and other health issues in some animals. Farmers and ranchers should be aware of this and manage the presence of Spotted Medick in areas where livestock graze.

Another interesting aspect of Spotted Medick is its role in traditional medicine. In various cultures, the plant has been used to treat a range of ailments, such as coughs, respiratory infections, and digestive issues. It has also been used as a poultice for skin conditions and wounds.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Spotted Medick is known as "Ghamaari" and is believed to have cooling and detoxifying properties. It is used to treat fever, inflammation, and other conditions related to excess heat in the body.

Modern research has supported some of these traditional uses, with studies showing that Spotted Medick has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It has also been found to have potential antimicrobial properties, which could make it a useful natural remedy for infections.

Spotted Medick is also a rich source of nutrients, containing high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron. Its seeds are a good source of protein and fiber, making them a nutritious addition to the diet.

In addition to its potential health benefits, Spotted Medick has also been studied for its potential as a source of renewable energy. The plant's high sugar content makes it a promising crop for biofuel production, with studies showing that it can produce up to 6000 liters of ethanol per hectare.

Overall, Spotted Medick is a fascinating plant with a range of uses and benefits. Its adaptability, medicinal properties, and potential as a source of renewable energy make it an important plant for sustainable agriculture and environmental remediation. With further research, it has the potential to contribute to a range of industries and fields, from medicine to energy production.

20 Facts About the Spotted Medick

Spotted Medick (Medicago arabica) is a small flowering plant belonging to the legume family (Fabaceae). While it may not be as well-known as some other flowers, here are 20 facts about the Spotted Medick flower:

  1. Scientific Name: The Spotted Medick's scientific name is Medicago arabica.

  2. Common Names: It is also known by several common names, including Spotted Medick, Spotted Burclover, Spotted Alfalfa, and Spurclover.

  3. Native Range: The Spotted Medick is native to parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

  4. Habitat: It typically grows in disturbed areas, grasslands, meadows, and along roadsides.

  5. Appearance: The plant has compound leaves with three leaflets and produces small yellow flowers.

  6. Flowering Period: Spotted Medick typically blooms from late spring through summer.

  7. Flower Size: The flowers are quite small, measuring around 5-6 millimeters in diameter.

  8. Flower Color: The flowers are typically yellow, although they can sometimes appear white or cream-colored.

  9. Seed Pods: After flowering, it produces small, coiled seed pods that resemble miniature spiraled springs.

  10. Edible: Some parts of the plant, including the young leaves and seed pods, are edible and have historically been used as food for humans and livestock.

  11. Medicinal Uses: Traditional herbal medicine has used Spotted Medick for various purposes, such as for its diuretic properties.

  12. Nitrogen Fixation: Like other legumes, Spotted Medick has a mutualistic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its root nodules, which enriches the soil with nitrogen.

  13. Wildlife Attraction: The flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

  14. Life Cycle: Spotted Medick is an annual or biennial plant, depending on environmental conditions.

  15. Invasive Species: In some regions, it is considered an invasive species due to its ability to colonize disturbed habitats and outcompete native plants.

  16. Cultivation: It can be grown as a cover crop to improve soil quality and is sometimes used in agricultural settings.

  17. Weed Control: It can be considered a weed in lawns and cultivated fields, as it competes with desired plants for resources.

  18. Drought-Tolerant: Spotted Medick is known for its drought tolerance and can thrive in dry conditions.

  19. Medicinal Properties: In traditional medicine, it has been used for its potential medicinal properties, including as a diuretic, astringent, and for treating digestive issues.

  20. Conservation: In some areas, efforts are made to control the spread of Spotted Medick to protect native ecosystems and prevent soil degradation.

Remember that while some parts of the Spotted Medick are edible and have traditional uses, you should exercise caution and consult with an expert before using any plant for medicinal or culinary purposes, as some plants may have toxic or harmful properties.


Spotted Medick filmed growing in Hidcote Gardens in Gloucestershire on the 30th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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