How I use herbs - lucerne (alfalfa)

Oct 07 2015 0 Comments Tags: garden, herbs

Lucerne AKA Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a legume that is commonly grown as pasture or for hay making.  I call the pasture and the hay lucerne, but I call the sprouts alfalfa.  Lucerne, is also a place in Switzerland, which I'm sure is related to the plant, but I can't find any information.  Confused yet?

I'm about to make it worse, you probably thought I was going to talk about alfalfa sprouts, but I actually don't eat them since I read that:
Raw alfalfa seeds and sprouts are a source of the amino acid canavanine. Much of the canavanine is converted into other amino acids during germination so sprouts contain much less canavanine than unsprouted seeds. Canavanine competes with arginine, resulting in the synthesis of dysfunctional proteins. Raw unsprouted alfalfa has toxic effects in primates, including humans, which can result in lupus-like symptoms and other immunological diseases in susceptible individuals.
This is explained in Isabel Shippard's book, and also on Wikipedia with independent references.

Actually I use the full-grown lucerne plant.  It has a very deep root, so it is rich in various minerals, and the mature plant does not have the same toxicity issues.

eight acres: how I use herbs - lucerne (alfalfa)

How to grow Lucerne?
Lucerne grows easily from seed, if you had some for sprouting, forget that and just scatter them around your garden instead.  Once established, the deep root helps lucerne to survive through dry weather.  Its flowering in my garden at them moment, and I allow it to self-seed, so it pops up all over the place.

How to use Lucerne?
In the garden, lucerne is a legume, so it adds nitrogen to the soil.  It also produces lovely flowers with nectar and pollen to feed bees and other pollinators.  The chickens and the cows enjoy the high protein leaves.

Medicinally, lucerne is used for its high vitamin and mineral content.  This is probably why the cows and chickens like it so much too.  Lucerne leaves can be made into herbal tea, or used fresh in salads.  I add it to my herbal tea mixtures when its growing well.  I also read that the roots can be used as a toothbrush!
eight acres: how I use herbs - lucerne (alfalfa)
Do you grow lucerne?  How do you use it?

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