Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Medicago minima
little bur-clover, bur medic

Distribution: Occurring in the east end of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington; Washington to California, east along the southern U.S. to eastern North America, also in the Hells Canyon area in Idaho.

Habitat: Roadsides, wastelots, and other disturbed, open areas.

Flowers: March-June

Origin: Introduced from Eurasia

Growth Duration: Annual

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bees, butterflies


Annual, the stems 1-4 dm. long, prostrate to nearly erect, conspicuously soft-hairy.


Leaves trifoliate, the leaflets obovate or obcordate with a wedge-shaped base, 1-1.5 cm, long, not spotted, denticulate at the apex; stipules entire.


Flowers 2-5 on fairly short peduncles arising from the leaf axils; calyx 3 mm. long, the 5 teeth slightly longer than the tube; corolla pea-like, yellow, 4-5 mm. long, the banner erect, much longer than the wings and keel.


Pod spirally coiled, the margins narrowly keeled, with two rows of divergent, hooked prickles up to 3 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Medicago minima (L.) Bartal.
Publication: Cat. Piante Siena 60 (-61). 1776.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Medicago minima (L.) Bartal. var. compacta Neyraut
Medicago minima (L.) Bartal. var. longiseta DC.
Medicago minima (L.) Bartal. var. pubescens Webb
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Medicago minima in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Medicago minima checklist entry

OregonFlora: Medicago minima information

E-Flora BC: Medicago minima atlas page

CalPhotos: Medicago minima photos

12 photographs:
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