Alfalfa or Medicago sativa (also called lucerne,) is a perennial flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop in many countries around the world. It is used for grazing, hay, and silage, as well as a green manure and cover crop. The name alfalfa is used in North America. The name lucerne is the more commonly used name in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The plant superficially resembles clover (a cousin in the same family), especially while young, when trifoliate leaves comprising round leaflets predominate. Later in maturity, leaflets are elongated. It has clusters of small purple flowers followed by fruits spiralled in 2 to 3 turns containing 10–20 seeds.
Alfalfa is native to warmer temperate climates. It has been cultivated as livestock fodder since at least the era of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Alfalfa sprouts are a common ingredient in dishes made in South Indian cuisine.
Alfalfa leaf contains a broad spectrum of nutrients, including considerable quantities of protein, trace mineral and vitamins, dietary fibre and chlorophyll, which serves as an antioxidant in the bloodstream. The deep root system absorbs minerals from the soil resulting in a plant rich in vitamins and minerals and a great source of fibre and protein. Alfalfa leaf is rich in protein and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
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