Little Bur-clover Medicago minima (Linnaeus) LinnaeusNon-native    
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Tracheophyta   >   Class Magnoliopsida   >   Order Fabales   >   Family Fabaceae   >   Genus Medicago   


Little Bur-clover is an introduced clover from the lands that surround the Mediterranean Sea. In the United States, Little Bur-clover isn't as established as its more successful relative Black Medick. It is spottily distributed along the eastern seaboard but has become successfully established in the southern Midwest, Arizona, and California. Little Bur-clover is rare in Maryland and we have very few records in the MBP database. Most of our records come from the coastal plain. Blooming seems to occur in May and June. Clive Reed found the plant blooming in the chrome-ore piles in Canton (Baltimore City). In his 1964 paper on the flora of the chrome-ore piles found in Baltimore City and New Port News, Reed says of Little Bur-clover, "Adventive from Europe; local Connecticut to Virginia."


The leaflets of Little Bur-clover have mucronate tips just like Black Medick. The mucronate tips are a diagnostic identification point that separates Medicago clovers from the Trifolium yellow clover species. Separating the two Medicago species is quite easy by just looking at the number of flowers on the flowering head. Little Bur-clover typically has less than 10 flowers on the flowering head while Black Medick has between 15-50 flowers on its flowering heads. The seed pods of Little Bur-clover are very distinctive. The green, spiraling, and spiny seed pods are unique and not easily confused with any of our other clovers.

Where to find:

Look for Little Bur-clover in weedy areas with lots of sunlight.

There are 5 records in the project database.

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