Alfalfa is a fun and easy crop to grow, and is also easy to find and identify in the wild. It’s a healthy and tasty treat no matter where you harvest it from!
Alfalfa is in the pea family, and regrows from the same rootstock year after year. A popular forage for livestock, it is grown on farms across the U.S. and is often found in empty fields and roadsides from having gone wild from these farms. It is a low shrubby plant, with small triple leaves which may be mistaken for yellow clover. To avoid misidentification, harvest when in flower: the alfalfa has purple flowers, and the yellow clover has white or yellow flowers.
When harvesting in the wild or from fully grown plants, you can eat the leaves and the flowers. The flowers are more popular in taste tests, having a sweet and nutty taste, but the leaves are enjoyable as well and highly nutritious. Both can be eaten raw or cooked.
When harvesting in the wild, consider collecting the seeds to grow at home. You can buy sprouting seeds from most seed companies, as well. Alfalfa sprouts are very easy to grow. Just put the seeds under a very shallow layer of soil, water, and harvest after about a week. You can put them in your garden or grow them year round indoors. They don’t need much light, but the more sunlight they get the more nutrition they’ll have and the better they’ll taste.
Alfalfa was introduced to Colorado by former Governor Alexander Hunt (1867 - 1869), who was also Colorado's first beekeeper.