Alfalfa

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Medicago sativa subsp. ambigua (Trautv.) Tutin
Medicago sativa subsp. microcarpa Urban
Medicago sativa subsp. sativa L.
Medicago sativa subsp. varia (T. Martyn) Arcang.

Alfalfa (pronounced /ˌɐlfɐlfə/) (Medicago sativa) is a flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop. In the UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, it is also known as lucerne, and as lucerne grass in south Asia. In Hindi, it is known as chara (चारा), as (دشقه) in Pashto, and in Gujarati as rajka or gadab. It resembles clover, with clusters of small purple flowers.

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Ecology

Alfalfa is a cool season perennial legume which can live more than twenty years, depending on variety and climate.[2] The plant grows to a height of up to 1 metre (3 ft), and has a deep root system, sometimes stretching more than 15 metres (49 ft).[2] This makes it very resilient, especially to droughts.[2] It has a tetraploid genome.[3]

This plant exhibits autotoxicity, which means it is difficult for alfalfa seed to grow in existing stands of alfalfa.[4] Therefore, it is recommended that alfalfa fields be rotated with other species (for example, corn or wheat) before reseeding.[5]

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