Black Medic

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by Colette Mancke

Bl;ack Medic_Medicago_lupulina Forest & Kim Starr CC License

Black Medic
Image by Forest & Kim Starr

Have you ever wondered if that weed you are looking at is a clover plant? At first it appears like clover with 3 leaves but it spreads all over and has yellow flowers. It is called Black Medic (Medicago lupulina). It often colonizes dry infertile spots or areas of soil compaction where little else will grow. At first plants stay close to the ground until ready to bloom. By the time that flowers appear the stems may be 6-26 inches long. If it is in the lawn, aeration helps along with adequate nitrogen and phosphorus for discouraging this weed. If you don’t have many of them they can in spring and early summer be pulled out. But the entire root must be with it or it will reappear. When pulling the weed out use gloves and a tool to get underground where the root is located. Twist and pull up while the tool is also lifting the root and soil.

Another way to control this weed is to use a corn gluten herbicide in spring to prevent germination of the seeds in the soil. Just do it in a spot where you won’t be planting any other seeds. Or to control it chemically apply a broadleaf herbicide containing a combination of 2 4D and triclopyr as an active ingredient in late May and early June. It should be applied when the temperatures are between 60 -80 degrees and when NO rain is forecast for 24-48 hours. It is also best done when there is little or no wind so other broadleaf plants are affected. Roundup / Glyphosate can be used but keep in mind that it kills everything it hits.


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