Black Medic

May 20, 2016
  • Black Medic

Black Medic

Black medic is germinating everywhere! As things heat up and you start inviting friends out to barbeque, you might be noticing this pesky clover-like weed popping up in your lawn and gardens.

It’s around this time that black medic—sometimes called yellow trefoil, nonesuch, or hop clover—starts becoming a problem in certain lawns and gardens. It’s usually an annual but sometimes can stick around for even longer and is an annoying weed as well as an indicator of poor lawn conditions.

What does Black Medic look like?

Black medic may look like a clover, but it’s technically not. For starters, you’ll never get a four leaf clover from it—there are always three leaves, one further from the stalk and two closer. You’ll also find that black medic has yellow globe-like flowers, instead of the white you normally see in clovers. The seed pods are also distinct, turning black when ready to drop. You’ll want to get rid of black medic before this, as the seeds are its only way of reproducing and they can stay viable for years.

Insects and Disease

Not only is black medic not exactly very attractive, it can be host to insects as well as viral or fungal diseases that can kill the rest of your garden. Luckily, there are several ways to remove the problem. Hand weeding is a valid option, and best done when the soil is wet so the roots pull out cleanly.

Black medic loves compacted soil

As with most weeds, black medic appearing is a symptom of a bigger problem in your lawn or garden, and correcting the problem will often get rid of the weed itself. Black medic specifically loves dry, compacted soil such as roadsides, so if you’re having problems with it, consider core aerating your soil. Additionally, setting your lawn mower to a higher setting when mowing can help kill it off, because it does not do well in the shade. Finally, it does well in sparse and nitrogen-poor soil, so consider regular fertilization or adding organic material to your lawn or garden to help encourage nitrogen and discourage weeds.

If you are considering a herbicide, remember to consider going organic and be careful not to hurt the rest of your garden or lawn. Our Fiesta and Natria products do well at controlling it.  If you can’t get black medic to go away or you decide you like it there, there are uses for it. For starters, over enough time it will correct the lack of nitrogen in your soil by creating some itself. The flowers and young leaves of black medic are edible, too, as are the seed pods, which can be ground up into flour. (With all self-harvested edible plants, please be wary of chemicals that may have poisoned the plants and be toxic to you and your family.)


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