SAND LUCERNE

??

Medicago sativa nothossp. varia

(Formerly: Medicago sativa ssp. varia)
Pea Family [Fabaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept month8oct

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8mauve
inner
inner8indigo
inner
inner8azure
inner
inner8yellow
inner
inner8green
inner
inner8black
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZscarce

13th Aug 2007, Stavely, Nr Chesterfield, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
This is a native shrub-like plant which grows on sandy or rough ground to 90cm.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A lowish bushy plant, about 3 feet tall, likes growing in sandy places, here on old sand dunes.


13th Aug 2007, Stavely, Nr Chesterfield, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Flower colour varies over a wide range. Here displaying lilac and beetroot colours.


13th Aug 2007, Stavely, Nr Chesterfield, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers are in small compact racemes.


22nd Aug 2007, west beach, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Flower colour varies enormously displaying white, yellow, azure, pale mauve, mauve, blue, steel blue, purple, violet, beetroot, greenish and blackish. The only colours missing from its considerable repertoire seem to be red and orange.


22nd Aug 2007, west beach, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Like Lucerne, to which it is related, it has pea-type flowers


22nd Aug 2007, west beach, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Here displaying a remarkable copper-ore type green and dull yellow with hints of steel blue.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Trefoil leaves, on a longish central stalk. Flowers in clusters on short stalks emerging from the leaf axils.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Pea-type flowers. Here in shades of purple, mauve, azure, white and cyan all on the same cluster. Sepals are long, narrow and pointed.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Here with a heat-treated steel appearance. Leaves in triplets.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Here a deep purple colour almost beetroot.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are slightly smaller than those of Lucerne and with a tighter tolerance of sizes, only 7-10mm (as opposed to the slacker tolerance of 5-12mm for Lucerne). Sepal teeth long and narrow like those of Lucerne.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Now a pale lilac and pink.


19th Aug 2010, St Annes on Sea, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
With 6-spot Burnet Moth, which seems to be a popular plant for this moth. Note the semi-transparent wings.


13th Aug 2007, Stavely, Nr Chesterfield, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Similar arrangement of stamens and anthers to that of Lucerne.


13th Aug 2007, Stavely, Nr Chesterfield, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Here displaying white.


13th Aug 2007, Stavely, Nr Chesterfield, South Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are narrow-veined, oval and without teeth apart from near the extremity where they are fine and irregular. There is a short pointed stipule tipping the extremity.


Sand Lucerne is a hybrid of two other subspecies, which also back-cross and are partly fertile. There is therefore confusion with this plant. Because none of the above had yellow flowers, the photographs might not actually be of Sand Lucerne. The only way to tell for certain is to compare the seeds pods, those of Sand Lucerne are spiralled with between ½ and 1½ turns, whereas those of Lucerne are spiralled in 2 to 3 and even 4 complete turns. Alas, the seed pods were not out when the photographs were taken. But it was growing on old sand dunes near the sea.

Slight resemblance to : Bush Vetch which is also bushy with blue to purple flowers in similar heads, but the leaves are very different, being pinnate.

Superficial resemblance to : Goat's Rue which is also shrubby, but taller, and with pinnate leaves rather than trefoil leaves and the flowers of Goat's Rue are in a loose spire and usually lilac or white whilst those of Lucerne have purplish flowers with spiral pods.

No relation to : Sandworts nor to Sand Leek, Sand Pansy, Sand Toadflax, Sand Catchfly, Sand Spurrey or Sand Crocus [plants with similar names].

There are three sub-species of Medicago sativa:

  • Lucerne (Medicago sativa ssp. sative) which is by far the most common. Fruits slightly curved to spiral with 2 - 3 turns. Flowers mauve to violet. 10-20 seeds. Introduced and naturalised.
  • Sand Lucerne (Medicago sativa nothossp. varia) which is rather rare RR. Fruits curved or spiralled with 0.5 - 1.5 turns. Flowers yellow or white, or purple or green or blackish. 3-8 seeds. The hybrid between Lucerne and Sickle Medick, but back-crosses and is partly fertile.
  • Sickle Medick (Medicago sativa ssp. falcata) which is also rather rare RR. Fruits nearly straight to a semi-circle. Flowers yellow. 2-5 seeds. Native in East Anglia, introduced and naturalised elsewhere.
Going by the colours alone, the samples from the beach west of Llandudno must be those of Sand Lucerne, since green is not in the spectrum of colours supposedly exhibited by Lucerne. As must the white example from Stavely near Chesterfield.


  Medicago sativa nothossp. varia  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
 family8Pea family8Fabaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Medicago
Medicago
(Medicks)

SAND LUCERNE

??

Medicago sativa nothossp. varia

(Formerly: Medicago sativa ssp. varia)
Pea Family [Fabaceae]

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