Alfalfa , also called lucerne and called Medicago sativa in binomial nomenclature, is a perennial flowering plant in the legume family Fabaceae. It is cultivated as an important forage crop in many countries around the world
Alfalfa, the oldest of our cultivated forage crops, is thought to have “originated in southwestern Asia with Iran as the geographic center of origin” (Goplen et al., 1987, p. 5) Alfalfa was first introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors. Meeting with idyllic conditions in Mexico and Peru, the alfalfa plant thrived and spread to “Chile, Argentina, and finally to Uruguay by 1775.” (Bolton et al., 1975, p. 7) Catholic missionaries brought alfalfa to Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. “Many areas were producing alfalfa in the southwestern USA by 1836. However, it was the introduction of the “Chilean clover” to California during the days of the gold rush that proved to be of major importance.” (Bolton et al., 1975, p. 7) In fact, cultivating alfalfa was usually a better paying enterprise than panning for gold.
Alfalfa is a part of the legumefamily, but it’s also considered to be an herb.
It seems to have originally come from South and Central Asia, but it has since been grown around the world for centuries.
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