alfalfa flowers on Flickr.

And here I thought I’d stumbled upon something uncommon, thinking this was a purple-flowered clover. It’s alfalfa (Medicago sativa)

“Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked. The leaves can also be dried for later use. Very rich in vitamins, especially A, B and C, they are also a good source of protein. The leaves are a rich source of vitamin K. A very nutritious food in moderation, though it can trigger attacks in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and large quantities can affect liver function and cause photo-sensitization. A nutritional analysis is available. The seed is commonly used as a sprouted seed which is added to salads, used in sandwiches etc or cooked in soups. The seed is soaked in warm water for 12 hours, then kept moist in a container in a warm place to sprout. It is ready in about 4 - 6 days. The seeds can also be ground into a powder and used as a mush, or mixed with cereal flours for making a nutritionally improved bread etc. Seed yields average around 186 - 280 kilos per hectare. An appetite-stimulating tea is made from the leaves, it has a flavour somewhat reminiscent of boiled socks and is slightly laxative.