Note: The tiny yellow flowers bloom from late spring through fall, followed by hardened, black pods, each containing one amber-colored seed. Black medic is a rampant self-seeder than can easily become weedy and aggressive, eventually spreading to form large colonies. Black medic in gardens can also overpower weak turf grass, thus becoming a real thug in lawns. Consider growing black medic herbs in containers if this is a concern.
Black medic extract reportedly has antibacterial qualities and may be effective as a mild laxative. However, it may increase blood clotting and shouldn’t be used by people who use blood thinning medications. Black medic should also be avoided by children, the elderly, and pregnant women.
The blooms are highly attractive to bees and are often used to make flavorful honey. You can also throw a few leaves in a tossed salad, although most people think the taste is bitter and unpleasant.
Can You Eat Black Medic?
Black medic (Medicago lupulina), also known as yellow trefoil, hop medic, black nonesuch, blackweed, or black clover, was originally introduced to North America from Europe and Asia many years ago for agricultural purposes. Since that time, this fast-growing plant has naturalized and is found growing along dry, sunny roadsides, vacant lots, weedy meadows and other waste ground across much of the United States and Canada.
Plant black medic seeds in early spring for a green manure cover crop, or as late as autumn if you intend to overwinter the plant.
If interested in growing black medic herbs, the plants grow in relatively fertile, alkaline soil and don’t tolerate soil with a high pH content. The plant also requires full sunlight and doesn’t perform well in shade.
Although black medic is considered a common weed, it does have certain herbal uses. Read on to learn more about this interesting herb.
Fruit: Tiny pods that turn black when ripe. One seed is produced per pod. The seeds look like little brown kidney beans.
Stems: The prostrate stems are angled, slender and hairy. They branch and spread along the ground from the taproot.
Resembling, and often confused with clover, it is easily identified by its bright yellow flowers and leaf arrangement. Take a close look at the leaflets, you’ll notice that the middle leaflet has a short stalk, while the lateral leaflets are attached close to the petiole.
Corn Speedwell | Veronica arvensis | Lawn Weed Identification
Remove the weed before it produces seeds: Control of black medic starts by reducing seed populations – its seeds remain viable several years.
Vinegar-based (20% acetic acid) and Citric Acid herbicides are considered a natural organic weed killer. They can be used as a non-selective herbicide in place of glyphosate and will kill annual weeds.
Root: Grows a deep taproot.
Flowers: Small, round, bright yellow flowers in clusters that are about 1/2 inch long.