Burr Clover

Burr Clover (Medicago maculata) is sometimes called Spotted Medick and sometimes California clover, also Yellow clover. The name burr clover has doubtless arisen from the closely coiled seed pod, which, being covered with curved prickles, adhere to wool more or less as burrs

do. The name Spotted Medick has been given because of the dark spot found in the middle of the leaflets, in conjunction with the family of plants to which it belongs. The name California clover is given because of the claim that it was much grown in California after having been introduced there from Chili, and the name yellow clover, from the color of the blossoms. After its introduction into the United States, seedsmen sell California and Southern burr clover as two varieties, but the correctness of the distinction thus made has been questioned. Many persons were wont to confuse it with alfalfa, or, as it is frequently called, lucerne, but the latter is much more upright in its habit of growth, grows to a greater height, has more blossoms, blue in color, and seed pods more loosely coiled. It is also to be distinguished from a variety (Medicago denticulata) which bears much resemblance to it, and which, growing wild over portions of the plains and foothills of the West, affords considerable pasture. Burr clover may properly be termed a winter annual, since the seed comes up in the autumn, furnishes grazing in the winter and spring, and dies with the advent of summer. It is procumbent or spreading and branched. On good soil some of the plants radiate to the distance of several feet from the parent root. They have been known to overlap, and thus accumulate until the ground was covered 2 feet deep with this clover, thus making it very difficult to plow them under. It is only under the most favorable conditions, however, that the plants produce such a mass of foliage. The leaves are composed of three somewhat large leaflets. The flowers, as previously intimated, are yellow, and there are but two or three in each cluster, but the clusters are numerous; hence, also the pods are numerous. They are about 1/4 of an inch broad, and when mature are possessed of considerable food value. Burr clover grows chiefly during the winter, and is at its best for pasture during the months of March and April, and in the Gulf States dies down after having produced seed in May. Though it is frequently sown, it has the power of self-propagation to a marked degree, which makes it possible to grow many crops in succession without re-seeding by hand. It is not considered a good hay plant, but its value for pasture is considerable, although, as a rule, animals do not take kindly to it at first, as they do to alfalfa or medium red clover, but later they become fond of it, but less so, probably, in the case of horses than of other animals. Being a legume, it is helpful in enriching the land, and being a free grower, it improves the soil mechanically through its root growth, and also through the stems and leaves, when these are plowed under.

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