Previous Fodder and Pasture Plants (1913) Next



thought it to be derived from the Arabian "Al-chelfa," which means "That which grows after something else," and is generally applied to plants which thrive after the spring growth has disappeared. The latter name would signify the ability of the plant to grow during the hot summer and perhaps refer to its power of producing many crops during the season. The first-mentioned derivation, however, is probably the correct one, the Spanish "Alfalfa" having been identified with the Arabian "Alfacfacah" in the 15th century by Fray Pedro de Alcala, a prominent specialist on the Arabian language.

In Europe Alfalfa is always called Lucerne. The origin of this word is uncertain. It has nothing to do with the Swiss state as the name was used before the plant was known in Switzerland. It is not likely that it was derived from the Lucerna valley in northern Italy, as is generally assumed by American authors. An old Spanish name for the plant is " Userdas," which is possibly identical with the name "Louzerdo," used in southern France. More likely the name Lucerne comes from "lucerno," which is an old Provencal word.

Varieties: A great many varieties of Alfalfa occur in the trade, some of which are real botanical varieties; that is, they can be distinguished by fixed botanical characteristics. Turkestan Alfalfa, for instance, has short, round leaflets and dull seeds. Others are only geographical varieties; their names merely signify that the seed has been grown in a certain country. Several, however, show decidedly practical qualities, such as hardiness, resistance to drought and disease, stooling power, seed production, etc. For Canada only hardy varieties are of importance. Arabian or Peruvian Alfalfa, for instance, will be winter-killed, and, generally speaking, varieties of a southern origin will suffer. When buying seed the farmer should therefore make sure that the variety offered him is suitable for the climate. It is always advisable to choose a variety grown in a country with a climate similar to that where the plant is to be grown.

Cultural conditions: The proper development of Alfalfa largely depends on the soil. It can be grown on many kinds, from sand or sandy loams to heavy clays. It thrives best in deep loarns with open porous subsoil where the taproots are not hindered. As the roots penetrate to a considerable depth, the quality of the sub-soil is of great importance. If it is compact and impenetrable it will be a serious obstacle to successful Alfalfa growing. For the same reason, there is little chance of a good stand on shallow soil on rock

Previous Fodder and Pasture Plants (1913) Next