Trigonella arborea (L.) Vassilcz.
Medicago arborescens C.Presl
Medicago citrina (Font Quer) Greuter
Rhodusia arborea (L.) Vassilcz.
Common Name: Moon Trefoil
Medicago arborea is an evergreen shrub that usually grows around 1 - 2 metres tall, but can reach 4 metres[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is sometimes grown as a soil stabilizer and is often grown as an ornamental.
Although Medicago arborea has a relatively restricted distribution, the majority of its native range falls within Europe where it has a stable population and no apparent major threats. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
The plant is often cultivated, especially in Mediterranean climates, as an ornamental and in soil stabilization projects. It has frequently escaped from cultivation and become established in France, where it is described as invasive.
Mediterranean - Spain, Italy, Albania, Greece, Turkey.
Scrub and rocky hillsides[
]. Dry soils, rocky hillsides, steep cliffs and seashore rocks; frequently found at low elevations by the sea and on limestone soils, and often in areas disturbed by human activity; at elevations up to 800 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Medicago arborea is not very cold-hardy, tolerating short-lived temperatures down to about -10°c when fully dormant[
]. The young growth in spring is more sensitive, and can be damaged by even light spring frosts. Plants do not generally succeed in the open at Kew Gardens in London (hardiness zone 7), though they grow well there when placed against a sunny wall[
Requires a warm position in full sun, succeeding in dry or well-drained moist soils[
]. Tolerant of wind and salt spray[
], it grows well in maritime gardens[
The flowers have a vanilla or sweet pea scent[
Any pruning should consist of cutting out dead wood in the spring[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. This plant was supplied to Plants for a Future in early 1994 from a person in Greece who said that it was often used in salads there[
]. Young shoots, when the plant is growing vigorously, have a slightly sweet, grass-like flavour but a rather chewy texture[
]. Older leaves, and younger leaves if the plant is not growing vigorously, have a distinct bitterness and are rather unpleasant[
The plant is grown in order to prevent soil erosion[
Medicago arborea belongs to the tertiary Gene Pool of cultivated Alfalfa (Medicago sativa subsp. sativa) and so it has the potential for use as a gene donor for crop improvement[
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in a greenhouse[
]. The seed can also be sown in a greenhouse in autumn. Germination should be quite rapid. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least the first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in late spring or early summer.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame[
]. Very easy if bottom heat is given[