Is Alfalfa ...

digitS'

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... ever used, or something closely-related used, for a human food other than casually?

Yes, I know about and enjoy alfalfa sprouts.

It seems like we may be missing the boat on this genus/species. It is very nearly an invasive plant here.

Steve
such a good topic for information from @Pulsegleaner ;)
 

Pulsegleaner

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... ever used, or something closely-related used, for a human food other than casually?

Yes, I know about and enjoy alfalfa sprouts.

It seems like we may be missing the boat on this genus/species. It is very nearly an invasive plant here.

Steve
such a good topic for information from @Pulsegleaner ;)
Depends on how closely related you mean. Alfalfa's cousin, Medicago polyceratia USED to be called Trigonella polyceratia and, in fact, is basically a wild form of Trigonella foenum-graecum, better know by its common name, fenugreek (i.e. the spice you use in Indian cooking).
Move one species over and you have Trigonella caeruleum, known as curd herb, which is traditionally chopped up and added to milk in Switzerland to make the dried cheese known as Sapsago.

But yeah, it's mostly used for animal feed, or why it's called alflafa (in arabic the prefix al- means "best of" or "essence of" such as in alchohol (al-khol, best of kohls (a kind of antimony compound used for eye makeup. The term was later used for anything that underwent refining, so distilled wine became "alcohol of wine") Alfalfa literally means "Best of fodders" (and Fenugreek means "Greek hay" since they used THAT as fodder as well.)
 

flowerbug

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hmm, i don't recall using it directly or even casually for food for me, but as a green manure crop where i've harvested and dried it for later use as worm food or green manure it worked well (as expected).

i'm really not sure what a higher N content green fits on the human diet side of thhings. is it good, desired or perhaps not so good? i can't say.

also, since my green manure patch was partly birdsfoot trefoil (the larger agricultural kind which grows two to three times taller than the wilder small kind i find along the roadside) sometimes what i harvested was a blend of these and of course some random weeds too. :)

the worms out back or in my buckets posted no signs of complaint that i could observe.
 

digitS'

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Are there any relatives with seed pods that are eaten?

Alfalfa is a perennial.

Have folks involved in permaculture considered alfalfa's usefulness as food? Seems that our four legged critters and honey bees are having all the fun beyond Alasgun's salad fixings.

Steve
 

Alasgun

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Only certain types of Alfalfa are workable by the honeybees due to the flower configuration. When grown for seed, producers use leaf cutter bees to ensure pollination, and im unsure if they’re “salad eaters”?😉
 

Zeedman

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An interesting topic... but since virtually all alfalfa grown commercially here is now GM, I have little interest in trying those. Only a few wild alfalfa escapees here & there, where old farm fields have returned to the wild; I've always loved those blue flowers. Although I've never sampled alfalfa, I've added clover to salads & often snack on the first Spring clover blossoms. I'll follow this thread with interest.

Alfalfa hay does make a good mulch though. A little tough to spread, but it doesn't mat down as much as other mulches. It appears to release a fair amount of nutrients as it gradually breaks down.
 

Pulsegleaner

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An interesting topic... but since virtually all alfalfa grown commercially here is now GM, I have little interest in trying those. Only a few wild alfalfa escapees here & there, where old farm fields have returned to the wild; I've always loved those blue flowers. Although I've never sampled alfalfa, I've added clover to salads & often snack on the first Spring clover blossoms. I'll follow this thread with interest.
That was one of the biggest surprises I noticed when I started actually looking at alfalfa plants; how many colors the flowers come in. Around here, most of the alfalfa I see has pale lavender or white flowers. I think I've only seen bright blue once, by a fencepost near a farm somewhere between Ithaca and Geneva, NY (when it mentioned it later to the people who had been driving with me, they actually said they had wished I had mentioned it when I saw it, as they would have stopped and taken samples, so it may be unusual even to people other than me in this area.)

It's isn't really eating, but there is another alfalfa which I wish I could use. When I used to go through Indian coriander a lot, one thing I would find a lot of were pods of the wild alfalfa Medicago muricoleptis. Personally, I always did (and still do) think those pods were extremely beautiful (they have the same coiled shape as domestic alfalfa, but flatter, with veins on the sides of the pods, and with a fringe of spikes on the edges, so they look like little seashells*). I've often thought that, if I could cast those pods in metal, they would make wonderful accents for jewelry. Oh and the flowers of that one are yellow.

*in fact, when I first found it, I thought what I had found was Medicago murex, since that was the kind of sea shell it resembled. Then I saw a picture of M. murex and realized it was different (it has sort of a coiled beehive shaped pod.)
 

seedcorn

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An interesting topic... but since virtually all alfalfa grown commercially here is now GM, I have little interest in trying those. Only a few wild alfalfa escapees here & there, where old farm fields have returned to the wild; I've always loved those blue flowers. Although I've never sampled alfalfa, I've added clover to salads & often snack on the first Spring clover blossoms. I'll follow this thread with interest.

Alfalfa hay does make a good mulch though. A little tough to spread, but it doesn't mat down as much as other mulches. It appears to release a fair amount of nutrients as it gradually breaks down.
Find that interesting as very little (I know of none) is GMO alfalfa here. Too expensive plus most growers want some grass mix in their alfalfa-larger market.
 

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