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.
Although black medic is considered a common weed, it does have certain herbal uses. Read on to learn more about this interesting herb.
Black Medic Herbal Uses and Warnings
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.
Can You Eat Black Medic?
Black medic seeds and leaves are edible. Plant historians believe that Native Americans may have roasted the seeds or ground them into flour. In Europe and Asia, the foliage was cooked much like collards or spinach.
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.
How to Grow Black Medic
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.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician or a medical herbalist for advice.