Information on Black Medick

Common Name: Black Medick
Scientific Name: Medicago lupulina
Irish Name: Dúmheidic
Family Group: Fabaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Black Medick could sometimes be confused with:

Trefoil, Hop, Trefoil, Lesser,

This low, downy annual flowers in grassy, well-drained places throughout Ireland from April until September.  It's tiny, bright yellow peaflowers are clustered together – between ten and fifty of them – into a rounded 3-8mm head which is borne on a long slender stalk.  The leaves are trefoil and the oval, toothed leaflets have a tiny point. The seedpods become black when ripe and are kidney-shaped. In common with many other pea-flowers, this plant is much beloved by bees as a source of nectar. It is a native plant and belongs to the family Fabaceae.  

I first identified this plant in Killiney, Co Dublin in 1976 and photographed it there in 1995 and in Gibletstown, Co Wexford in 2006.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Medick, Black
Medick, Black

A source of nectar for many butterflies including the Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus or Gormán coiteann) seen feeding in the photograph.  Identification of this butterfly was made for me by Michael O'Donnell, a fellow member of the Wexford Naturalists Field Club.

In Nathaniel Colgan's Flora of the County Dublin of 1904 the writer says of Black Medick: 

'This is often sold in the streets of Dublin on St Patrick's Day, the Seventeenth of March, as the true Shamrock, as it is usually of more precocious growth than either of the Trefoils, Trifolium repens (White clover) and Trifolium minus*,  which are generally worn in Ireland as the national badge'.  

*Trifolium minus is another name for Trifolium dubium which Colgan also called Seamróg or Shamrock.