Medicago lupulina (Black Medick)

Plant Info
Also known as: Black Medic
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; roadsides, waste areas, fields, lawns
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:2 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Round flower heads ¼ to 1/3 inches across of 10 to 20 short-stalked flowers at the end of stems arising from leaf axils, the cluster stem much longer than the subtending leaf. Flowers are bright yellow, 1/8 inch or less long, pea-shaped with a broad upper petal (standard) and 2 small lateral petals covering the keel below. The calyx is hairy and has 5 narrow teeth.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in 3s, alternately attached on stalks up to 1¼ inch long. Leaflets are oval to diamond shaped, typically rounded at the tip and wedge-shaped at the base, to ¾ inch long and 1/3 inch across, hairy to varying degrees, and the end leaflet longer stalked than the lateral leaflets. The tip end of a leaflet may have fine teeth around the edge. Stems are sprawling to ascending, much branched, angled, and densely covered in fine white hairs but may become smoother with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] The flower head elongates as fruit develops, becoming a cylindric cluster of 1-seeded pods, turning black when fully ripe. Seeds are brown and oval.


Black Medick is a ubiquitous weed often seen hiding in the grass and may be overlooked because of the small flower size. It can grow erect, but is more often sprawling. Hop clovers (Trifolium species) have similar yellow flower heads, but are much larger.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Sophie - Maple Grove
on: 2011-07-20 19:41:36

It's spreading all over our Maple Grove neighborhood and eating our grass.

Posted by: Rebecca - Bemidji
on: 2015-07-08 10:45:23

This flower drives me nuts! I have to constantly try to control it's invasion into my rock beds, because if I ignore it, it will ruin the bed and take over (even when I have laid down protective matting under the rocks). It also has taken over my lawn in places, but on the upside, it likes the sandy soil, so it does stay greener than if my lawn were strictly grass or clover.

Posted by: senchu - Spring lake township
on: 2020-06-23 16:02:40

This year I have spotted few of these in my yard, the leaves resemble clover so I assumed its yellow clover, thanks for the ID, now I know- will have to see it up close.

Posted by: Dale Hedlund - St. James (56081)
on: 2022-05-26 16:25:04

Is black Medic native to Minnesota or is it a n alien?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-05-26 16:46:54

Dale, see the table of plant info at the top of the page, which includes the plant's origin (Europe).

Posted by: Sandra Sedivy - West-central/Ottertail County
on: 2022-07-17 23:13:59

I found this in my yard in mid-May and have had some success hand-pulling it after it rains. There weren't too many, so I hope to keep ahead of it. Now that I know what it is, I recognize it in nearby yards that are frequently watered.

Posted by: J.Kenneth Mews - Ubiquitous
on: 2023-07-31 14:36:26

The photograph under the heading "Flower" on this page is not of black Medic, but rather of birdfoot Trefoil!

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-07-31 17:38:32

J.Kenneth, the flower photo is indeed black medick. The individual flowers are the same color and shape as birds-foot trefoil, but much smaller, and always in tiny round clusters where birds-foot trefoil flower clusters are larger and more variable in shape.

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