© INRA 2012

Why a collection ? The genus Medicago A complex of species Advices

The genus Medicago is known from a long time. Yet in the 1750's, Linneus in Species Plantarium, described nine species of Medicago, each one including several botanical varieties.
The taxonomy changed several times in the last century. Here, five major authors had given precise descriptions of this genus :
  • Nègre, 1956 - Les luzernes du Maroc - Inst. Sci. Cherif. Maroc, Ser. Bot. 3: wwii, 1-120.
  • Heyn, 1963 - Annual Species of Medicago – Jerusalem: Magnes Press, The Hebrew University.
  • Lesins & Lesins, 1979 - The Genus Medicago (Leguminosae) –
    The Hague, Boston, London: Dr W. Junk.
  • Small & Jomphe, 1989 - A synopsis of the genus Medicago (Leguminosae) –
    Canad J. Bot. 67:3260-3294.
  • Small & Brookes, 1990 - A numerical taxonomic analysis of the Medicago littoralis -
    M. truncatula
    complex - CAN. J. BOT. vol 68, 1990, pp 1667-1674
The genus Medicago is close to both Melilotus and Trigonella, and some species have been placed at different times under one of these three genus. Recently, Small and Jomphe moved 32 species from Trigonella to Medicago, based on their tripping system.
This genus offers a wide range of diversity. Some species are diploids, tetraploïds or even hexaploïdes (M. cancellata, M. saxatilis and some populations of M. arborea). The chromosomic number is often 8, but can also be 7 (M. constricta, M. polymorpha, M. praecox, M. rigidula or certain taxons of M. murex) -Prosperi & al, 1995.
Lesins & Lesins (1979) numbered 55 species including one shrubby species (Medicago arborea), 20 perennial weedy species and 34 annual weedy species. Within the last group, some species present variability for their perenniality, for example some populations of Medicago lupulina are pluriannual .


Medicago glomerata
Medicago arborea
Welcome, BRC-MTR, Natural Diversity, Mutants, Medicago Truncatula , Curator