Thursday, 23 February 2017

From Farmer Al Falfa to the Hopperdozer: Medicago sativa in North American Folkways

Volume 70, Issue 4pp 394–404

DOI: 10.1007/s12231-016-9364-9
Cite this article as:
Dugan, F.M. Econ Bot (2016) 70: 394. doi:10.1007/s12231-016-9364-9


Alfalfa was integral to the agricultural revolution in Europe because of the plant’s soil nitrifying properties and was widely introduced throughout North America. American folkways eventually addressed planting, harvesting, plant protection, and uses of alfalfa as animal forage and human medicine. Tall tales and folk heroes featured the plant, and it was viewed as bringing luck and success. Alfalfa festivals, including Alfalfa Queens and Princesses (both human and livestock), became widespread in the West and Midwest. “Alfalfa” was used to name fictitious as well as historical persons and places. Alfalfa, the world’s most important forage legume, is scarcely represented in standard folkloristic references, a deficiency corrected by this compilation of North American folkways.

Key Words

Agricultural revolutionAlfalfaFolkloreFolktaleFolkwayLucerneMedicago sativa.

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2016