E. Small 2011: Alfalfa and relatives. Evolution and classification of MedicagoMeikle, R.D. 1977: Flora of Cyprus 1
but much modified. Further testing of the key required.
1Shrub; 1-3 m high
1'Annual or perennial herb; much less than 1 m high
2Pods produced underground (geocarpic)
2'Pods produced above ground
3Pods stellate-spreading in axillary clusters; sessile or very shortly pedunculate; pods straight or slightly curved
3'Pods not stellate-spreading; distinctly pedunculate, sometimes shortly pedunculate (less than 2 mm) but then pods coiled into a close spiral
4Flowers 8-10 mm long; pod almost straight, or falcate, or forming an open spiral; plants perennial; leaflets glabrous or thinly pilose
4'Flowers 2-8 mm long; pod reniform or coiled into a close spiral; petals yellow
5Pod coiled 1.5-3.5 times; flowers violet or purple
5'Pod falcate-circinnate, or coiled 1-1.5 times; flowers yellow, violet, purple, greenish or whitish
6Pods reniform, blackish when ripe, 1-seeded; flowers in dense globose or oblong-cylindrical clusters
6'Pods spirally coiled, at least some with 2 or more seeds
7Leaves and stems densely villose; inflorescences capitate-racemose, conspicuous; perennial plant of sandy seashores and sand-dunes
7'Leaves and stems not densely villose; plants annual
8Pod without spines, flat, discoid, 12-16 mm diam.; seeds with a tuberculate-rugulose testa
8'Pod not as above; seeds with a smooth testa
9Some pod coils conspicuously imbricate (as in a stack of bowls)
9'Pod coils more or less flat (as in a stack of coils)
10Open part of 'bowls' all point towards distal end
10'Open part of 'bowls' point towards middle
11Pod without spines
11'Pod with small spines
12Pod without spines
12'Pod spinose (spines sometimes short and blunt)
13Stems and leaves glandular
13'Stems and leaves not glandular
14Peduncle long and slender, usually exceeding subtending leaf; inflorescence usually 3-8-flowered
14'Peduncle rather short, not exceeding subtending leaf; inflorescence 1-3-flowered
15Dorsal surface of pods, and spines, +/- densely clothed with short multicellular hairs
15'Dorsal surface of pods, and spines, glabrous or thinly clothed with simple hairs
16Spines short, thick, erect; pods 5-8(-12) mm diam.
16'Spines long, slender, spreading; pods 9-15(-17) mm diam.
17Fruiting peduncles long and slender, usually equalling or exceeding the subtending leaves
17'Fruiting peduncles generally shorter than subtending leaves
18Pods less then 5 mm diam.; leaves and stems distinctly pilose; inflorescences capitate
18'Pods more than 5 mm diam.
19Spines spreading at a right angle to lateral surfaces of pod; leaflets narrowly obovate or elliptic, sometimes lobed or lacinate
19'Spines erect; leaflets broadly obovate, obcuneate or obcordate, not lobed or laciniate
20Pods discoid or very shortly cylindrical, spines often long and reflexed; distal coils of pod often unarmed
20'Pods subglobose ovoid or barrel-shaped, spines usually short and thick
21Inflorescence usually 1-2-flowered; standard about 4 mm long; pod subglobose or broadly ovoid; small prostrate plant, stems usually less than 15 cm long
21'Inflorescence usually 3-8-flowered; standard about 6 mm long; pod usually barrel-shaped; rather robust plant, stems 15-50 cm long
22Leaflets glabrous above, subglabrous or thinly pilose below
22'Leaflets more or less pilose or pubescent on both surfaces
23Inflorescence 1-2(-3)-flowered (several plants to be checked)
23'Inflorescence 2-8(-10)-flowered (several plants to be checked)
24Leaflets 2-6 mm long; pod with up to 4(-5) coils, c. 2.5-4.5 mm wide; seeds c. 2.5 mm long; spines relatively thin and flexible
24'Leaflets 7-15 mm long; pod with 5-9 coils, 4-10 mm wide; seeds 3-5 mm long; spines stocky and difficult to bend
25Pod edge shows fewer than 4 ridges; lateral surfaces of pods distinctly reticulate-veined; pod usually with erect spines; leaflets without blotches; stipules laciniate with slender fliform teeth; stems glabrous or subglabrous
25'Pod edge shows 4 ridges alternating with 3 groves; lateral surfaces of pods obscurely veined; pod with spreading spines; leaflets usually blotched; stipules deeply dentate or shortly laciniate with narrowly deltoid teeth; stems normally clothed with scattered multicellular hairs
26Stipules entire or subentire; inflorescence usually 3-6-flowered; pods with slender spines
26'Stipules dentate-laciniate; inflorescence 1-3-flowered; pods with rather short, thick spines
27Dorsal surface of pod glabrous with erect or suberect spines; dorsal suture not distinctly raised
27'Dorsal surface of pod more or less pilose with spreading spines; dorsal suture raised with a furrow on either side