Black Medick, Medicago lupulina


Black Medick, also known as Hop Clover, is a grassland annual plant that produces small, yellow, clover-like flower heads. Mature plants measure from 15 to 80 cm in height, with fine stems often lying flat at the beginning of growth and later erecting. The leaves are compound, each with three, hairy oval leaflets, that become toothed near the tip. The yellow flowers of Black Medick are very small and grouped in tight bunches. The fruit is a single-seeded pod that doesn't open upon maturation, but hardens and turns black when ripe. Each pod contains a single amber-colored seed. It is related to the legume and clover family. In Europe and Asia, where this plant is native, it's bitter leaves are often used as a potherb, or cooked and eaten as a side dish, much like spinach. Most people find the raw leaves too bitter to eat, preferring instead to lightly sauté or stir-fry them, or add them to soups or stews.

Black Medick Checklist


πŸ‘ Grassland, including paddocks, fields and meadows.
🏑 Urban Green Spaces, including scrubland, parks and gardens.
🌊 Waterways, including rivers, lakes and streams.


πŸŒΈπŸŒžπŸ‚ April - September


☘️ Compound, each with three, hairy oval leaflets. Toothed near the tip.


🌷 Small, yellow, (2–3 mm). Grouped in tight bunches and resemble the tops of hops.


🌱 Thin, 15 to 80 cm in height.

Fruit / Seeds

🍏 Single-seeded pod, 1.5 to 3 mm in diameter, turning black when ripe. Each pod contains a single amber-colored seed.

Edible Parts

☘️ Leaves

Aroma / Taste

πŸ‘ƒ Smells indistinct.
πŸ‘… Tastes rather bitter when raw, but improves with cooking, tasting like spinach.

ID Notes

🟩 Easy to Identify
πŸ‘€ The flowers and seed pods are a key identifyer of this plant. When not in flower or seed, look for the the short fine 'needle' at the apex of each hairy leaf.


πŸ₯¬ Green - Is sometimes cooked like a vegetable.
🌿 Herb - Is sometimes used as a pot herb to add flavour.