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Black Medick

This is a low growing, downy annual or short-lived perennial. It lives in grassy places and roadsides in much the same areas as Restharrow can be found, the Eastern lowlands and the West coast of Scotland.

The leaves have three small oval leaflets on short stalks, either entire or finely toothed ending in a soft point and with a marked crease along the spine.  These grow on stems which can lie flat along the ground or stand erect. Leaves and stems are slightly hairy.

Flowers are more complex, each having the properties of other pea family flowers, but one stem carries a compact head of 10-50 tiny flowers. These are deep yellow with each flower about 3mm long. At first glance it can be mistaken for clover flower, but belongs to a different species.

When they ripen the flowers develop into kidney-shaped pods also about 3mm long which turn black when ripe, hence the name.

The leaves of the Black medick are edible but chewy and strongly flavoured, not to everyone’s taste. It is a close relation of alfalfa, or Purple Medick, which is more often eaten. Black Medick has been used in the past as a pot herb. It is mildly laxative.

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