The species described below is chiefly of interest as a woody member of a genus represented in the British flora by five native herbaceous species and by the naturalised M. sativa (lucerne). The generic name derives from 'medike' – the Greek name for lucerne. The genus is remarkable for the many species in which the pods are spirally contorted and frequently prickly. In Hegi's Flora von Mitteleuropa, Vol. IV, 3, p. 1249, the capitals of a romanesque church in the Valais, Switzerland, are figured, in which there are carvings of the fruits of various Medicago species, mingled with pine cones and bunches of grapes.