Onobrychis viciifolia Scop., 1772
Common names: Sainfoin, Esparcet [En], Sainfoin cultivé, Esparcette cultivée, Esparcette à feuilles de vesce [Fr], Esparcette [Nl], Saat-Esparsette [De], Esparceta, Pipirigallo [Es], Ονοβρυχίς [Gr], Korunga [Tu]
Rodome, AUDE ● France
Etymology: Onobrychis means "devoured by donkeys", from Ancient Greek ónos |ὄνος, donkey, and brýko | βρύκω, to devour, to eat greedily. This refers to sainfoin's good properties as a forage plant for large mammalian herbivores.
Description: Pubescent perennial plant growing up to about 80 cm in maximum. Many erect or sub-erect, hollow stems, 60–80 cm or more, arising from basal buds on a branched root stock. Root system consists of a deep tap root with a few main branches and numerous fine lateral roots bearing most of the rhizobial nodules.
The pinnate leaves are divided into pairs of red-dotted green obovate leaflets up to 2.5 cm long.
It produces tall, showy spikelike racemes of pink pealike flowers each about a cm long. The fruit is a flattened net-textured, leathery seed pods contain a single kidney shaped seed, 4–6 mm, dark olive to brown or black in colour.
Biology: Fowering from May to August. The flowers are cross-pollinated, mainly by honey bees. It has excellent drought resistance because of its deep-rooting characteristic, and is intolerant of prolonged flooding.
Habitat: It prefers dry calcareous soils.
Distribution: Europe, including Britain, from France south and east to Spain, Siberia, Caucasus and Iran. Widely cultivated worldwide as an animal forage and fodder.
Wikipedia, Onobrychis viciifolia
Dr. John Frame, FAO