Alfalfa
shopping: all 5 varieties
Medicago sativa

alfalfa

plant overview
nutritious alfalfa

This member of the legume family of plants is a foraging crop for grazing animals and a highly nutritious green for people. Alfalfa lends a fresh, mildly sweet flavor to teas and cooked foods.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.
Alfalfa
01.
A Bit of Botany

a bit of botanical information on alfalfa

description
The alfalfa plant is perennial member of the Fabaceae Family (Pea Family). On this plant, new growth rises each year from the crown. Stems reach to 3 feet, and 5 to 25 stems may rise from a single crown. The pinnate trifoliate leaves are arranged alternately on the stems. It has bluish-purple or yellowish flowers that grow from the tall, smooth stem. The seed pods appear spiraled. The taproot is very long and tough allowing the plant to survive very dry weather. It also enables the plant to pull up nutrients from deep underground. Alfalfa fixes nitrogen in the soil and is often used during crop rotation for this purpose.

common names
& nomenclature

The name Alfalfa comes from the Arabic al-fac-facah, which means "Father of all Foods." It has been called the king of plants because it is extremely rich in vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, silicon, and trace elements.

Also known as:
chilean clover, father of all foods, buffalo grass, buffalo herb, mu-su, purple medic, and lucerne


02.
Where in the World

habitat and range for alfalfa

The alfalfa plant grows in the wild in large parts of Asia, in continental Europe, and in areas of North Africa, the alfalfa is found native in open meadows and other open and cultivated areas. Also cultivated in many countries with temperate climates.

03.
Cultivation & Harvesting

considerations for growing alfalfa

climate
Alfalfa is widely cultivated throughout the world in temperate climates. Alfalfa prefers full sun and tolerates droughts well.

soil
Alfalfa is an easy grower and will tolerate most soil types, preferably loamy soil.

growing
Seeds are usually sown in autumn. Prepare the soil with manure and rock phosphate. Young plants require regular watering, but once established, they become fairly drought tolerant.

harvesting
Harvest Alfalfa in the summer when the growth has reached 1-3 feet in height.

preserving
Alfalfa should be stored in a dark, dry, and cool place.

04.
The Rest of the Story

alfalfa history, folklore, literature & more

alfalfa's healing properties
Most of alfalfa's ancient healing uses have long been disapproved, but modern scientists may have discovered a potential healing benefit our ancestors never dreamed of: Alfalfa as an agent in the war against heart disease, stroke, and cancer, the nations top three killers.

Animal studies show that alfalfa leaves help reduce blood cholesterol levels and plaque deposits on artery walls. High cholesterol levels and plaque deposits lead to heart disease and stroke. Alfalfa sprouts produce a similar, but less significant, effect. Animal results don't necessarily apply to people, but one case report in the British medical journal (Lancet) documented a major cholesterol reduction in a man who ate large amounts of alfalfa.

One study suggests that alfalfa helps neutralize carcinogens in the intestine. Another, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, shows it binds carcinogens in the colon and helps speed their elimination from the body.

Alfalfa seeds also contain two chemicals (stachydrine and homostachydrine) that promote menstruation and can cause miscarriage. Pregnant women should not eat alfalfa seeds.

Alfalfa is a source of chlorophyll, the active ingredient in most commercial breath fresheners. Sip an alfalfa infusion if you're concerned about bad breath.

other tidbits on alfalfa
Darius, King of Persia, reportedly brought Alfalfa to Greece when he was in a battle over Athens.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
you should always consult with your doctor
before making any changes to your diet!!
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PHOTO CREDIT (TOP): ©2010, Philmarin, CCBY-SA 3.0
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